FairBreak Invitational welcomes a thrilling new world of cricket to Dubai - in pictures

Newest T20 franchise league starts with spectacular opener as Falcons beat Warriors by eight wickets

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A bowler from the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan sent down the second over of the first FairBreak Invitational fixture.

A schoolgirl from Dubai took the first catch, and a spectacular effort, high above her head on the boundary, it was, too.

At other times, there was a Thai off-spinner, a Papua New Guinean leg-spinner, an Argentine seam bowler, and a captain who has flown in from the United States to play.

When the organisers of cricket’s newest T20 franchise league said they would be welcoming the world, they were not wrong.

And yet, on a vivid opening night under the ring of fire floodlights at Dubai International Stadium, it was the stars of cricket’s old world order who shone the brightest.

Hayley Matthews, the Barbadian power-hitter, got the tournament off to a flying start as she blazed a 58 from 38 balls at the top of the order for the Warriors.

She might have notched this innovative event’s first century, too, were it not for the intervention of Theertha Satish, the diminutive UAE batter who held a brilliant catch, while just maintaining her balance inside the boundary rope at midwicket.

Theertha’s effort was met with rapturous acclaim in the stand beyond the fence behind her. Friends and family of her and Esha Oza, her national teammate who was lining up for the opposition, accounted for the majority of the small crowd who were present.

Falcons' Theertha Satish bats in the game between Falcons and Warriors in the FairBreak Invitational, T20 cricket tournament at the Dubai International Stadium, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Once Matthews went, Georgia Redmayne maintained the momentum. The Australian wicketkeeper-batter ended not out at the end of the first 20 overs, reaching 80 as the Warriors notched 177 for two.

Given how brutal some of the hitting had been, that felt an imposing total at the halfway mark.

Once Suzie Bates and Chamari Athapaththu got into their work in reply, though, it felt paltry.

It took Bates, the New Zealand veteran who is captaining the Falcons in this tournament, a full two balls from towering West Indies fast bowler Shamilia Connell to get her eye in. The third she drilled over the rope at mid-on for six.

From then on, Bates was the junior partner in the opening stand worth 133 in 14 overs, as Athapaththu stole the show.

Falcons' Chamari Athapaththu celebrates her century against Warriors. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The Sri Lankan opener was in characteristically belligerent form as she flayed the first ton of the event's history.

She ended unbeaten on 107 from 55 balls, as she carried her side to the win with eight wickets and as many deliveries to spare.

She and her opening partner were only parted when Oza dismissed Bates with her off-spin. That brought Theertha to the wicket.

Although her role from then on was to play for Athapaththu, the 18-year-old batter did make one decent memory for herself. She laced Connell, who is surely the fastest bowler she has faced in her brief career to date, straight back past her for four.

Updated: May 05, 2022, 3:17 AM