Old Monks side faces crunch clash in Challengers Cup at ICC Academy at Dubai Sports City
Has to beat Al Futtaim Logistics to secure a top-two finish in its pool in the Silver section; Pacific Ventures flexes its muscles in the Gold section
25 teams divided into three sections – Gold, Silver and Bronze – with almost AED10,000 in prize money; tournament runs until 4 December
ICC Academy Head of Development Mudassar Nazar: “The tournament is heating up nicely and it is good to see so many matches are closely contested. That is testament to the format with sides grouped in sections that reflect their ability”
ICC Academy Manager Will Kitchen: “The Challengers Cup is once again delivering action, excitement and fun for all the teams and spectators and we are delighted about that”
Dubai Sports City General Manager – Sports Business: “The Challengers Cup is a great event, yet another one to take place at the ICC Academy and it continues the real buzz we have around not only the ICC Academy but also across the whole of Dubai Sports City”
It is crunch time for the Old Monks side in the Challengers Cup at the ICC Academy at Dubai Sports City.
Playing in the Silver section of the tournament, the Monks players need to beat Al Futtaim Logistics in their final group stage to ensure a top-two finish in Pool A.
That is important as it will see the Monks face the third-placed side from the other pool in the Silver section and necessary for confidence after its players enjoyed a win and suffered a loss in the first two fixtures of their campaign.
The loss came against Oxford Marine, a team vastly experienced in indoor cricket at the ICC Academy, but it was a closely contested match.
The Old Monks totaled 42, a competitive score in this format, but Oxford Marine had enough quality and skill to respond with 47, for a five-run success.
The tournament is indoor cricket’s equivalent of the Twenty20 form of the game with the eight-a-side matches involving just eight overs per team.
Players bat in pairs for two overs each and five runs are deducted from a team total every time a wicket falls.
Asif of Oxford Marine was the hero in that encounter after collecting one wicket for minus two runs – one of only five wickets that fell in the entire match, another indication of how tight the clash turned out to be.
The Old Monks side has given itself a chance of a top-two finish in its pool thanks to a crushing 49-run win against Team 8. The Monks scored 47 before restricting Team 8 to minus 2 in reply.
Nithil was player of the match for the Old Monks, scoring 10 runs – the only player to reach double figures in the contest, a contest in which Team 8 lost 10 wickets.
There are 25 teams in action and they are divided into three sections – Gold, Silver and Bronze.
The Gold section involves five of the leading indoor teams in the country, including the Danube Lions, winners of the previous Challengers Cup in May.
The Silver section features eight sides, divided into two pools – A and B. And the Bronze section has 12 line-ups, split into three pools – A, B and C.
The top four sides in the Gold section will move on to the next stage while, in the Silver section quarter-finals, the top side in Pool A will play the bottom side in Pool B, the second side in Pool A will play the third-placed side in Pool B and so on.
Eight of the 12 sides in the Bronze section will make the quarter-finals with the top-ranked side playing the side that qualifies eighth, the second playing the seventh and so on.
The latest round of matches featured just one match in the Gold section and Pacific Ventures, twice the winner of the Summer Indoor Tournament, flexed its muscles with a 13-run success against SFS, its second win in two starts.
Pacific Ventures scored 49 batting first and then restricted SFS to 36 in reply, with Asif of Pacific Ventures the player of the match having scored 13, the top-score on either side.
In the Silver section, Transmed made it two wins from two matches, overcoming MUCC by 14 runs in another relatively close encounter, in Pool B.
Transmed made 45 before MUCC responded with 31. Jaffar was player of the match, the Transmed man making a crucial contribution with two wickets for minus three runs.
In the Bronze section’s Pool A, Khaleej Times won back-to-back matches to make it two wins from three starts. First of all the journalists beat Alec in a thrilling match, securing the win by just three runs, 52 to 49. Alec had the consolation of having the player of the match with Sohail making 13, the highest score by any player in the encounter.
Khaleej Times then overcame Chalmers in comprehensive fashion, making 54 and then reducing its opponents to a final total of minus three. Dutta proved to be a one-man wrecking machine with the ball, taking four wickets for minus 17 runs and he was named player of the match.
In the Bronze section Pool B, NICO scored a three-run win over IM Galadari, making it two victories in a row. NICO’s success was an outstanding effort as its players defended a total of just 25, keeping NICO down to just 22 in reply. Jagdeesh of NICO was player of the match.
And in Pool C, Club EMC’s chances of progress look bleak after defeat at the hands of DBMSC-2. Batting first, EMC was humbled for minus 16 and then DBMSC-2 replied powerfully with 81, to claim a 97-run success. Sajid of DBMSC-2 was player of the match with a great all-round display – 15 runs and three wickets for minus 14 runs.
EMC did manage to get a victory, however, against Edgen Murray. With a much-improved batting display, EMC reached 56 before keeping Edgen Murray to 32. Barris of Club EMC was the player of the match with an impressive innings of 15.
The tournament runs until 4 December and the prize fund totals almost AED10,000.
The format means every ball counts in frantic, fast-paced action that that has already proved hugely popular with players and spectators at the ICC Academy.
All the action is taking place in the world-class surroundings of the indoor facility at the sport’s global hub.
The ICC Academy is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ICCAcademy and Facebook at www.facebook.com/ICCAcademy as well as Instagram at #ICCAcademy, and social media will feature updates during the tournament.
Commenting on the latest set of matches, ICC Academy Head of Development Mudassar Nazar, the former Pakistan all-rounder, said: “The tournament is heating up nicely and it is good to see so many of the matches are closely contested.
“That is testament to the format with sides grouped in sections that reflect their ability. We have sides that are among the best in indoor cricket in the UAE and also sides who are just here for fun and enjoyment and this tournament caters for all of them.
“With almost three weeks still to go we should be in some more outstanding indoor action and I cannot wait.”
Dubai Sports City’s General Manager – Sports Business said: “The Challengers Cup is a great event, yet another one to take place at the ICC Academy.
“It continues the real buzz that we have around not only the ICC Academy thanks to a host of international teams that are currently using the facility, but also across the whole of Dubai Sports City.
“The tournament offers the chance for fast-paced indoor cricket action in world-class facilities.
With substantial prize money within the tournament there is an extra incentive for sides to perform to their very best and it has once again slotted in perfectly to our year-long calendar of indoor action.
“The ICC Academy is unquestionably the premier indoor cricket venue in the UAE with the largest permanent indoor playing area in the country and a superb atmosphere that is created when the lights are on.
“We look forward to the action continuing and for another cracking Challengers Cup,” he added.
Entry to all matches is free. And with the F29 bus service from the Mall of the Emirates in operation, access to Dubai Sports City has never been easier, even for those without their own transport.
The ICC Academy boasts two electronic scoreboards to keep players, officials and spectators right up to date with the action, and spectator seating is available throughout the venue.
And the Challengers Cup is the latest event that forms part of non-stop activity across numerous sports at Dubai Sports City, which is now a must-visit location for sports fans.
Will Kitchen, the ICC Academy Manager, said: “The Challengers Cup is once again delivering action, excitement and fun for all the teams and spectators and we are delighted about that.
“When we first staged it earlier this year, it was, perhaps, the most ambitious indoor tournament we have ever staged with more matches, teams and match days than ever before.
“It is a real thrill to have it back again as it offers teams, whatever their standard, the chance to play enjoyable, competitive matches within our superb facilities, and it is something we are very proud of. We look forward to more high-class indoor action.
“The atmosphere for these indoor tournaments at the ICC Academy is always outstanding and with this short format, where every ball really does count, the action has already been intense.
“The Challengers Cup is part of a range of activities we have going on at the moment with junior coaching from Cricket Cubs, which starts for children of walking age, right through to under-18 level.
“We are currently hosting the Pakistan and New Zealand squads, having earlier this season welcomed the Australia squad to the ICC Academy and, at the same time, we also have the four Associate teams that have qualified for next year’s ICC Cricket World Cup – Afghanistan, Ireland, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates – with us this month.
“The UAE is also based with us for its High Performance Programme and at the end of this month we will be hosting four One-Day Internationals between Afghanistan and the UAE.
“Our numbers of participants in our Junior Warriors coaching programmes are exceptional and growing all the time and earlier this year we launched a new programme going into schools across Dubai, helping to provide a real pathway for cricketers of all ages in this country to progress their games to become the best they can be.
“We have also launched coaching programmes for adults and girls for the first time and so we can and do cater for all cricketers, from beginners to the world’s very best.
“As more and more people, not only from the UAE but also from around the world, are using our world-class facility we are playing our part on delivering the ICC’s global objective of increasing the numbers of people playing the game. Thanks to our superb indoor and outdoor facilities we can offer action to all age-groups 365 days a year,” he said.
Mr Dudhia added: “This is another exciting cricket season for us at Dubai Sports City as the action at the ICC Academy and the Dubai International Stadium, which is hosting 15 days of matches between Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand, follows on from our biggest ever season of action involving Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka, as well as the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier, the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup, the Asian Cricket Council Under-19 Cup, the England – Pakistan Physical Disability series and sell-out matches in the Pepsi Indian Premier League.
“We are relishing sides and spectators attending the ICC Academy for the Challengers Cup as our world-class facilities go from strength to strength.”