Abu Dhabi T10 champions Maratha Arabians will face Bangla Tigers, Delhi Bulls and Northern Warriors challenging in Group A after the draw was made for the tournament's fourth season.
Group B will see last year’s runners-up Deccan Gladiators pitted against Qalandars, Team Abu Dhabi and Pune Devils.
Each of the four teams will play three matches apiece in the group stage followed by 12 more in the Super League. A total of 28 matches are scheduled across the 10 days at the Zayed Cricket Stadium, starting January 28.
West Indies star Chris Gayle, the ‘icon player’ of Team Abu Dhabi, is one of the biggest draws at the tournament.
Gayle starred for Kings XI Punjab in the UAE in the recent Indian Premier League, which was relocated because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Joining him as 'icon players' in the other franchises are Andre Russell (Northern Warriors), Shahid Afridi (Qalandars), Dwayne Bravo (Delhi Bulls), Sunil Narine (Deccan Gladiators), Thisara Perera (Pune Devils), Isuru Udana (Bangla Tigers), and Shoaib Malik (Maratha Arabians).
Shaji Ul Mulk, founder and chairman of Abu Dhabi T10, said he was delighted at the outcome of the draw.
“This year’s icon players and retained players make every team well balanced, and this is bound to produce tough competition,” he said.
“It's a big achievement that we are able to stage this tournament during Covid times. We’ve had record crowds in the previous editions and we hope the government permits maximum attendance for matches in the coming edition.”
During the 2019 edition of the Abu Dhabi T10, 29 matches produced 5,989 runs with 800 boundaries and 259 wickets taken in 10 days.
Matt Boucher, chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi Cricket, described the draw event as a great day for the T10 tournament.
“One of the first milestones of the fourth edition is now in the bag, and this is a fantastic moment for everybody,” he said.
“The special draw is complete and it looks like a brilliant set of games over 10 days at the Zayed Cricket stadium.
“I am extremely impressed with the icons and the platinum category stars announced by the teams.”
Haroon Lorgat, director strategy and development of Abu Dhabi T10, added: “This draw brings excitement to the teams and now they can start working out their squad formation. I am astounded at the potential of T10 cricket and its attraction to grow the game.”