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Hafeez, UAE stars picked at Abu Dhabi T10 draft

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The League will be held in the UAE capital from January 28 to February 6, 2021

As the clock ticked towards another exciting Abu Dhabi T10 League, the squads of the eight franchises took shape and were given the finality with the Players’ Draft taking place in Dubai on Wednesday night.

The team owners and their think tanks assembled at the Oaks Hotel, Ibn Battuta, and they worked away on their laptops and phone lines to pick their squad, which they think can lay assault on the title.

The fourth instalment of the competition and the second to be held in the UAE capital, is scheduled to be held from January 28 to February 6, 2021.

And there were some big and established names, a plethora of new ones as well as a sizable contingent from the UAE.

Defending champions Maratha Arabians, who have former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik as their icon player, arrived for the draft and the franchise promptly got hold of Mohammad Hafeez.

The 40-year-old Hafeez has had a stellar year with the all-rounder scoring the most runs in a calendar year in T20 Internationals.

The Maratha Arabians also went for veteran leg spinner Pravin Tambe, who had set the IPL alight with the Rajasthan Royals in previous years.

Over 600 players were made available for this season’s draft. And the players were split into a variety of categories: Icon player, category A, category B, category C, UAE and Emerging Players. Each of the eight franchises had already signed an icon player for the season earlier this week.

The teams were allowed to pick three players from each A-C category for their squads. They also had to pick two UAE players and two emerging players. The teams also had the option of extra signings, but they had to be from category C or lower.

Each team were also allowed to sign a BBL wildcard. This was done to allow players who are playing in the Big Bash to still enter the Abu Dhabi T10 if their BBL team is knocked out early

The draw determined who was going to get the first pick in the draft and the rest of the picking order had been randomly generated to give equal weightage.

All teams had the opportunity to retain players from last season’s tournament. If a team had retained a player in the current category, their turn was skipped and passed to the team next in the pick order. The teams had three minutes per pick to select their teams.

The Round 1 category A saw South Africa’s Chris Morris locked in by Team Abu Dhabi, while the Deccan Gladiators went for Morris’ countryman Colin Ingram. The Bangla Tigers opted for West Indian Johnson Charles.

Englishman Sam Billings was picked by Pune Devils in Round 3 category A (gold), while West Indian Fabian Allen was drafted in by Northern Warriors.

A plethora of UAE players were picked by the franchises with Shiraz Ahmed following former Maratha Arabians coach Andy Flower to the Delhi Bulls.

Team Abu Dhabi drafted in Karthik Meiyappan, who was the UAE vice captain at the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa in January. Aryan Lakra, who was the captain at that World Cup, was picked by Bangla Tigers, while Pune Devils drafted in Vriitya Aravind. Northern Warriors got hold of Ansh Tandon.

Zahoor Khan (Deccan Gladiators), Rohan Mustafa (Team Abu Dhabi), Chirag Suri (Bangla Tigers), Junaid Siddique (Northern Warriors) and Sultan Ahmed (Qalandars) were the retained UAE players.

“The very pillars of the Abu Dhabi T10 are the eight teams here. Many of you here are four years old now. And I see many new faces as well which is encouraging,” Shaji Ul Mulk, the founder and chairman of the league, said ahead of the draft.

“The league is growing and the teams are expanding and the very strength and the popularity of the format can be gauged from the numbers. From a very modest start in 2017, with a four-day introduction of the concept, we hit 37 million viewers in four days. And last year, the figure was 219 million. So, that shows that this success is all because of the support of our partners here,” he added.

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