Some of the world's best Twenty20 club sides will head to the UAE in October to compete in the inaugural Abu Dhabi T20 Trophy, organisers announced on Sunday.
Taking place at Zayed Cricket Stadium from October 4-6, five of the six teams boasting some of the world's best limited overs players have been confirmed for the tournament.
Pakistan Super League franchise Lahore Qalandars will be joined by the Hobart Hurricanes from Australia's Big Bash, English T20 side Yorkshire Vikings, Afghanistan’s Boost Defenders, and South Africa's Multiply Titans.
An announcement regarding the sixth team to complete the line-up is expected imminently, organisers said.
The Abu Dhabi T20 Trophy will showcase a host of popular and well-known cricketers, including West Indian batting powerhouse Chris Gayle, who has been recruited by the Boost Defenders. England fast bowler Tymal Mills will also be in action after he signed for the Hurricanes, while Pakistan's leading spin bowler Yasir Shah will turn out for the Qalandars.
Yorkshire captain and England international Gary Ballance will lead the Vikings, and South Africa all-rounder Farhaan Behardien will be present in a Titans team led by Albie Morkel.
“Make no mistake, this a dynamic field of the best of the best,” said His Excellency Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council. “With this level of player power, the tournament allows Abu Dhabi to deliver on our mandate of ushering in an exciting new era of cricket in the emirate.
“Fans can look forward to three days of thrilling entertainment in what we anticipate will be fiercely fought action to lift the inaugural Abu Dhabi T20 Trophy.
"The tournament will certainly help cement Abu Dhabi’s international sporting credentials, reinforcing its major events hub reputation and expand awareness of our world-class facilities.”
The Abu Dhabi T20 Trophy has received the backing of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), whose chairman David East is predicting a bright future for the tournament.
“All the ingredients are there,” East said. “The ever-improving facilities, the fan base, the support of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Abu Dhabi Cricket's proven organisational expertise in world-class events all set the scene for a wonderful event which we hope to see expand annually.”
The tournament is expecting to attract more than 20,000 fans to the Zayed Cricket Stadium on each of the three days, while the action will be broadcast on television worldwide.
"The Titans are very excited to be involved in this ground-breaking T20 event," Titans CEO Jacques Faul said. "Having dominated our domestic T20 league for the last few seasons, it’s fantastic to have an international platform to assess where we are at as a franchise.
"When you look at the calibre of teams from around the world, it’s shaping up to be a fantastic event to be a part of. Abu Dhabi has certainly ramped up its cricketing landscape, and it is important to us as a franchise to take the Titans brand around the world."
Ali Arshad Azimi, CEO and owner of Boost Defenders, expressed his pride at being invited to compete in the inaugural tournament and believes the Abu Dhabi T20 Trophy is an important step in the continued globalisation of cricket.
“It gives me immense joy that the Boost Defenders have been chosen to be part of ADT20," he said. "This step onto the international stage means a lot to our fans, sponsors and well-wishers.
"We have great confidence in our players who have been working hard over the last few months in preparation for this event. This is the modern phenomenon of the globalisation of sport in action, so it’s great to be able watch our players rub shoulders with a battalion of international cricketers and be part of the Abu Dhabi T20.”
Tickets and hospitality packages are available, with general admission tickets starting from just Dh25 and are available through Ticketmaster.ae, from Virgin Megastores and the Zayed Cricket Stadium box office.
For more information visit: www.abudhabit20.ae