x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Bring IPL here again, says Sheikh Nahyan

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister for Culture, Youth and Community Development, pledged the UAE’s full support towards the tournament.

Deepika Padukone performs during a gala dinner at Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National
Deepika Padukone performs during a gala dinner at Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // It was an evening of fireworks, music, dance and celebration, as the country heralded the arrival of the Indian Premier League to Abu Dhabi.

All eight of the IPL teams were present to mark the start of the cricket tournament and were treated to performances from Bollywood stars including Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone.

But behind the glitz and glamour there were some serious messages to be taken from the gala event held last night at the Emirates Palace hotel.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister for Culture, Youth and Community Development, pledged the UAE’s full support towards the tournament.

“We are deeply honoured to be your hosts for the next 15 days,” Sheikh Nahyan said.

“The IPL is welcome to begin every season, not just this seventh season, in our splendid stadiums in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. The UAE is eagerly anticipating the first matches of IPL 2014 and we are hoping for more matches in 2015 and beyond.”

Sheikh Nahyan said he hoped that the UAE cricket scene would continue to flourish.

“The year 2015 will see the Cricket World Cup, [which] our national team has recently qualified for the tournament.

“Cricket is beginning to inflame our country. Your coming matches will make the flame burn brighter. Large elements of our international population have come together in the sport of cricket. This is a key sentiment of the ICC,” he said.

It was a feeling shared by others who attended the event. “This is a great opportunity for the UAE to make cricket part of the psyche of the country,” said Sunil Gavaskar, temporary president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

Mr Gavaskar said he would work to ensure that IPL 7 was free of corruption.

“Just because a minuscule minority chooses to bring disgrace to their world, it is not only unfair, but ignorant to deem the whole society of cricket as corrupt,” he said.

“Just because a handful of weak individuals have tried to tarnish our sport, cricket will not become a haven for corruption.

“We cannot and we will not leave any stone unturned in returning the piety of the great sport of cricket. We will fight for crickets integrity.”

ksinclair@thenational.ae