Pakistan superstar Shahid Afridi has been unveiled as Qalandars' marquee signing for the revamped Abu Dhabi T10, which is set to take place in November.
The T10 league has moved from Sharjah to Abu Dhabi for the new season. The partnership between Afridi and Qalandars – a well-known entity in Pakistan Super League – is certain to attract even more members of the Pakistani community to the tournament.
“I am T10 and this format is my type of cricket,” Afridi said during a media interaction at the Abu Dhabi Sports Council on Sunday. “I was very excited to be a part of it from the time I heard it was going to be played in Abu Dhabi.
“The first two editions of T10 were in Sharjah and now it is in Abu Dhabi. We will be here to provide fans all the entertainment in this short format of the game.
“T10 is a different concept where batsmen will have to have a go from the start. It’s good to have some variety for the fans.”
Afridi, 44, insisted players must have the skills in all three areas – batting, bowling and fielding – to succeed in the T10 format.
“I’m still fit and wouldn't be here if I can’t play in this format,” Afridi said when asked if he still has the ability to play at a competitive level.
However, Afridi believes T10 should have different rules; mainly just six players allowed to bat and five to bowl. “This is my view and I’m saying it because I was asked to give my opinion,” Afridi, also known as 'Boom Boom' for his explosive brand of cricket, added.
Talking about the national team, Afridi said Pakistan’s new coach Misbah-ul-Haq – who replaced South African Mickey Arthur following an underwhelming World Cup in England – must be given at least three years to get the team in order.
“Pakistan’s performance was not what we expected but under the new coach we expect some changes and the new system to be in place for a longer period,” Afridi said.
Aref Al Awani, general secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, stated that Qalandars’ participation was a big boost for Abu Dhabi T10’s global profile.
“It demonstrates the desire of international teams to come to Abu Dhabi – a destination for world-class tournaments,” he said.
The T10 was first introduced in the UAE in 2017 and has attracted top-quality players including the likes of Eoin Morgan, Shane Watson, Rashid Khan, Andre Russell, Lasith Malinga and Darren Sammy.
Qalandars chairman Fawad Rana said he is looking forward to building a new legacy for cricket in the UAE capital.
“The game is built on big stars and fast action, so Qalandars are very excited to bring iconic players like Shahid Afridi to Abu Dhabi,” he said.
Matthew Boucher, chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi Cricket, stated that by securing a renowned franchise like the Qalandars, Abu Dhabi Sports Council has "demonstrated its mandate to host world-class international cricketing and sporting events".
“We have worked hard this year to prepare the Zayed Cricket Stadium to be the new home of T10 cricket for the next five years,” he said.
The first match of the Abu Dhabi T10 will take place on November 15.