Defending Champions take on energized Arabians!
Maratha Arabians to win the match!
We are into the third season of the T10 League and the defending champions Northern Warriors will feature in the opening match as they take on Maratha Warriors. The two sides last faced each other in the Eliminator Final last year when the Warriors emerged victorious in a rather one-sided contest. As expected, there are a few tweaks to most of the squads this year and these two sides aren't any different. Former Indian star Yuvraj Singh and Australian powerhouse Chris Lynn are the big additions for the Arabians while Darren Sammy and Sam Billings are the new recruits for the Warriors.
Both sides have quite a few matchwinners in their ranks and with the Arabians having some new additions, the teams are evenly matched although the Warriors have a well-gelled unit that's already experienced glory together.
In Hazratullah Zazai, they have one of the most explosive short-format openers in the world. While Alex Hales will be missed this year, another Englishman Adam Lyth or Chadwick Walton could provide the needed firepower at the top of the order. Chris Lynn is another option for opening the batting, given that this format is about giving your most dangerous batsmen maximum time at the crease. With the likes of skipper Yuvraj Singh, Dwayne Bravo, Najibullah Zadran and Dasun Shanaka, the middle order also has a bit of range in it and this is a team that can afford to go ballistic from ball one. Not that they have a choice anyway in this format but there is enough depth in there in case of a crisis.
The bowling department will revolve a lot on Bravo and Sri Lanka's trump card Lasith Malinga, both of whom are seasoned campaigners. Mitchell McClenaghan is likely to be the third pacer and he is another handy resource, more so with his left-arm angle. Dasun Shanaka can also chip in with a bit of medium pace if needed while the spin department is likely to be headed by Sri Lanka's budding leg spinner Wanindu Hasaranga who is also useful down the order with the bat. Yuvraj himself could roll his arm over for some slow left-armers if the situation demands. The Afghan and West Indian cricketers who are part of their respective National sides will be unavailable for this game.
C Walton (wk), A Lyth, C Lynn, Y Singh (c), D Bravo, D Shanaka, J Fuller, W Hasaranga, M McClenaghan, L Malinga, N.Aziz
Chadwick Walton, Dwayne Bravo, Lasith Malinga, Mitchell McClenaghan, James Fuller, Yuvraj Singh, Dasun Shanaka, Chris Lynn, Wanidu Hasaranga, Shiraz Ahmed, Adam Lyth
The 2018 Champions have retained a major core of the side that won the title last year. They are high on Caribbean firepower with Andre Russell, Nicholas Pooran, Lendl Simmons and their skipper Darren Sammy forming a highly formidable quartet of matchwinners.
One of the reasons for their success last year was the quality of all-rounders that they had. In Chris Green, Asela Gunaratne, Rayad Emrit and Sikander Raza, they have some excellent utility players with Russell obviously being the deadliest weapon in their arsenal. Their latest recruit Sam Billings is expected to open the batting and his unorthodox methods should add more flavor to an already ensemble cast in the batting department. Scotland's George Munsey is a devastating option too and he should start, given the absence of a few regular players. Off-spinner Chris Green was the most efficient bowler in the T10 League last year and his wily defensive methods will be crucial for the Warriors this season as well. Pravin Tambe is the other reasonable option in the spin department with his leggies.
A lot of the pace bowling duties will hinge on Nuwan Pradeep and Rayad Emrit with the all-rounders to do the rest of the job. You could say that the lack of effective specialist bowlers is a concern of sorts but this is the formula that worked for the Warriors last year and you cannot fault them for thinking that they can make it work this time as well.
S Billings (wk), G Munsey, A Russell, S Raza, A Gunaratne, D Sammy, C Green, R Emrit, N Pradeep, P Tambe, A Hayat
Sam Billings, Ansh Tandon, George Munsey, Sikandar Raza, Christopher Green, Asela Gunaratne, RR Emrit, CP Wood, Nuwan Pradeep, DJG Sammy, Andre Russell
Weather is expected to be clear throughout the evening and hence, there shouldn't be any concern about rain. Cooler temperatures in the mid-20s are expected with middling levels of humidity. The surface at Abu Dhabi is generally known to be a balanced surface but in a format as short as this, batting should rule the roost. Generally, the pacers do enjoy a bit of help and there is also a bit of grip in the surface. However, in the early part of the tournament, the tracks should be easier for batting.
The Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi is one of the premier hosting venues in the UAE and has been home to plenty of international cricket over the years.
Since the steep rise of T20 cricket, there has been an increasing tendency for teams to chase and in an even shorter format here, that should be a no-brainer as it always helps to know the target in such short over contests.
As mentioned earlier, both sides have plenty of exciting matchwinners in their ranks. However, the ongoing Afghanistan-West Indies series has taken away a few destructive players from both sides. In such games, it's the better bowling side that stands a higher chance of winning and it's the Arabians who have more meat in that department and they will start as favorites in this clash.
Maratha Arabians to win the match!