(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Fawad Hussain |
Hosts Qatar will start their campaign with a match against Bahrain as the inaugural edition of the T20I Gulf Cricket Championship gets underway at West End International Cricket Stadium today.
The opening match of the tournament will be played between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia at 4pm before the Qatar-Bahrain clash which will start at 8:30pm.
The United Arab Emirates and Oman are the other sides taking part in the six-nation competition, backed by the International Cricket Council.
“We are looking forward to some quality cricket and we wish our best to all the competing teams,” Qatar Cricket Association (QCA) Secretary-General Khalid Saleh Al Rumaihi said at a press conference yesterday.
The tournament will be played on round robin league with two best teams entering the final to be played on September 23.
With thrilling games and full house expected during the tournament at West End International Cricket Stadium, the Gulf T20I is said to be a milestone event for the sport in the region.
It is considered as one step further in progress for Gulf teams, which are making significant strides in international cricket.
Sri Lanka legend Duleep Mendis, who is serving as Oman coach, said the tournament must take place on regular basis.
“The Gulf Cricket T20I Championship 2023 is a very good initiative by Qatar and hopefully this would be an annual event and go from country to country,” said Mendis, who played 24 Tests and 79 ODIs.
“Players of all the teams are keen to do their best and excel in the championship and to make their mark. In this format any team can win on a given day, the team which plays well consistently throughout shall emerge as the best,” said the 71-year-old, who is also the Chief Development Officer for Oman Cricket.
The visiting teams were full of praise for tournament arrangements in Qatar, terming the facilities among the best in the world.
“The training pitch we got for practice was great and can be compared with any other track in the world. We are very happy with the facilities,” said coach Mudassar Nazar.
The former all-rounder, who represented Pakistan in 76 Tests and 122 ODIs, also expected exciting games in the event.
“Cricket in the Gulf is growing very fast and the teams here have the potential to beat quality sides which makes this tournament exciting,” he added.
Former South Africa star Herschelle Gibbs, who is guiding the Kuwait side said: "It's a great initiative and a wonderful opportunity for all the Gulf nations. Lovely to be a part of it and I am looking forward to the tournament."
After meeting Bahrain, Qatar will play their next match against Oman on September 17 and will meet Kuwait the next day.
The home side will play against the on September 20 before their last round-round league match against Saudi Arabia the following day.