Courtesy:- Business-standard.com

“That was a great day. 100th IPL game, special day. I loved my time here at CSK, almost 10 years. No 4 in the IPL trophy cabinet is really good. Rutu is a special talent. Indian cricket is generally very blessed with young talents. Rutu has got a great head on his shoulders. He has got a great future”.

Man-of-the-Match Faf du Plessis (86 off 59 balls)

The former Proteas captain’s assertion is suffice to the CSK’s tinge of success as these two openers were the toast of the tournament as they compete and compliment each other.  In fact they  vied with each other to claim the top position  as they finished the first and second places in the list of highest number of runs of the tournament  viz., 635 and 633 runs as Rutu piped Faf at the post by a margin of just 2 runs.  Of course MVP award was snatched by Harshal Patel ( also Purple cap holder) of RCB with  his sterling performance with the cherry with 32 wickets, including the only HAT TRICK in this edition .

Dad’s Army did it again for the second time.  It was Shane Watson in 2018 and now it’s Faf du Plesis in 2021 for CSK  who held the innings till the end and was out only in the ultimate ball of the Innings. The CSK which was bruising its wound of last year finishing at the bottom of the table, turned the tables on this time and became victorious, lifting the coveted trophy.

The ethereal  Ruturaj Gaikwad ,   who was in sublime form,  with rare gem of beautiful  strokes along with  charm and timing went on to bag the Orange Cap with 635 runs.  And Faf in his own inimitable style hit a magnificent  86 runs and laid the foundation for a big score on the big stage as CSK could post 192/3 at the end.

CSK’s opening batters carved out a niche for themselves and they were ruthless as both Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf, the tournament’s best opening pair, once again put on 61 runs.  Incidentally,  this opening pair scored 53% of CSK’s runs in this tournament setting a new record for openers in IPL.  Then came  the sixers’ carnage from Robin Uthappa ( 3 sixes) and Moeen Ali ( 3 sixes) in the company of Faf , who also helped himself with 3 sixes,  CSK set a tantalisingly high score ( 192/3) for the finals .

MSD’s CSK lifted the coveted glittering IPL trophy 2021 for the fourth time in the IPL history in the Dubai International stadium. There were rambunctious celebrations as the players and support staff from the dugout ran to the centre of the ground. 

Courtesy : BCCI.tv

Dhoni, the epicentre of all this tamasha,  strolls past the centre casually even as the world around goes ecstatic in celebration. 300 T20s old as leader and he remains grounded, calm and composed as ever, and in the twilight of his career, he remains the King of the ring!

It was a reminiscence of the 2012 IPL final between the same opponents .  In 2012 there was  Manvinder Bisla who orchestrated the title win for KKR  chasing 191 runs at M.A.C. Stadium , Chennai.  This time around the opening pair of Venkatesh Iyer and Subhman Gill was threatening to take the game away from CSK as they put on 91 runs in a quickfire session until the “Lord “ Shardul Thakur’s double strike put the brakes and suddenly the adrenalin of CSK players came to the fore.  And from 91/1 became 125/8 as KKR were losing wickets in clusters.  The only vvv2012 KKR’s winning team duos Sunil Naraine and Shakib Al Hasan couldn’t shine with the bat and the other batters wilted under pressure including their Captain.  The KKR captain Eoin Morgan’s batting woes continued in the final also as his powerful pull found a fielder  near the ropes. Only a late cameo from Shivam Mavi delayed the proceedings of CSK’s march to the 4th IPL title.

The KKR which was in the 7th position in the table before the U.A.E. Leg came back strongly and set up a summit clash with the three times champion, CSK. 

KKR’s Openers gave a rousing start as the opening pair put on 90 runs and specially Venkatesh Iyer, the find of the tournament , was cutting loose before Shardul Thakur teased him with a nagging delivery and Iyer trying to dominate the bowlers was allured into slicing a wide delivery and the ball soared so high nearly to hit the spider camera and the athletic ebullient Jaddu running from sweeper cover nearly misjudged it but still managed to hold on the catch.  The No.1 threat was gone as Iyer walking back to the pavilion with a neat half century couldn’t conceal his disappointment. 

Then Nitish Rana, who was in horrible form with the bat and succumbed to a committed stroke, ballooned  a simple catch to Faf at mid-off.  And this double strike of Thakur deflated KKR’s hopes of a revival.  And suddenly the panic button was pressed into KKR’s quest for the 3rd title.  And Sunil Naraine’s extravagant stroke found the ever vigilant near the ropes, Jaddu to take a fantastic catch.  And the reticent opener Gill followed suit.  And though a late burst of sixers by Mavi helped by a wayward bowling of Thakur and Bravo was only delaying in the inevitable,  and couldn’t deny CSK a fourth title.  CSK won the match by 27 runs and lifted the glittering trophy with a purse of Rs.20 crores.



Morne Morkel cut his teeth at Easterns and rose to prominence in the 2006-07 season when he was picked for a Rest of South Africa side against the touring Indians.

A family of cricketers was a very good breeding ground for Morne.  His sibling Albie Morkel also played for South Africa in ODIs, T20 games.  His father Albert Morkel also played grade cricket for South Africa.

He spent 2007 trying to establish himself in international cricket and broke through the ranks of the Proteas team in 2008. Morkel was the joint leading wicket-taker on South Africa’s tour of England and played a key part in their first series win there since readmission. 

He was picked for South Africa’s tour to Australia in December 2008 on the basis of the form he displayed in county cricket, but to everyone’s dismay he flattered to deceive, dishing out some insipid bowling spells.

He was once again drafted into the squad for the World T20 in June 2009 in England, where he had moderate success before being overlooked for the Champions Trophy at home.

Morne honed the skill and returned the next year, after Makhaya Ntini’s retirement, to share the new ball with Dale Steyn, and had great success. He took Test 49 wickets in 2010, his highest in a calendar year. The following year he had ODI success, taking 26 wickets at 17.65 in three series 

Constant monitoring by Allan Donald did him a world of good. His ability to hit the deck hard and generate extra bounce at a searing pace has been amongst the primary reasons for his success. He has had his share of injury worries, but his gifted ability to extract awkward bounce from a length at good pace has meant that he has always been a part of the South African bowling attack.

He was a major cog in the wheel of the Proteas that dethroned England to claim the ICC’s Test mace for the first time and contributed more than he received recognition for. Morkel was the top wicket-taker on the 2012 tour to Australia, where South Africa successfully defended the No. 1 ranking. 

Morkel also enjoyed bragging rights over some of the world’s best batsmen. His bunnies were Michel Hussey and Andrew Strauss whom he has dismissed most times in Tests., viz., 9 times and 8 times respectively.

He was then picked for the home series against England, in which his match-winning spell with the ball on the first morning of the fourth Test at Wanderers proved to be decisive, going a long way in helping South Africa win the Test and level the series, thus preventing a complete humiliation at the hands of England, whom they had convincingly beaten on their previous tour in 2008.

After a lackluster 2009, Morkel had his best year in Tests to date. He went on to form a formidable combo with Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander, arguably the best attack in the world for the next 2-3 years. Morkel played his 50th Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.

With regards to the IPL, after having little success with Rajasthan, he was picked up by Delhi in 2011 for USD 475,000. He had a moderate first season, where his team finished at the bottom. However, he went on to become the leading wicket-taker in 2012 with 25 sticks, finishing with the purple cap as well. During the 2014 auction, he was picked up by Kolkata.

Morkel finished as the leading wicket-taker for South Africa in the 2015 ODI World Cup.

In Feb.2018, Morne Morkel made a startling  decision to quit international cricket post Australia’s visit in February-April. He put the decision to retire down to a young family and a demanding international schedule.

Surrey have signed South African fast bowler Morne Morkel on a two-year Kolpak deal, in 2018. He had a very good stint with Surrey including the County side winning the County cup.

And now he’s part of BBL’s Brisbane Heat team of Australia.

Happy birthday Morne Morkel.



Now, the 2nd phase of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021  is under way in U.A.E. played in 3 grounds, viz., Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah . Let’s trace the history of International cricket in the  Arabian Desert.  

Sharjah stadium  was the brainchild of the Arabian Business tycoon, Abdul Rahman Bukathir, who was the driving force of building an International cricket stadium at Sharjah, U.A.E. In fact Sharjah cricket Association has been one of the founding members of U.A.E. Cricket Association in 1971..

The sudden influx of expats and oil exploring companies in U.A.E.  saw the emergence of  many workers especially from the  Asian sub-continent employed there.  It was a workplace for them.  During the weekends, these expats used to  watch cricket and it continues now also.

The cricket  ground in Sharjah is in the midst of an industrial area and people use to peep in the evening whenever the floodlight is switched on and the cricket is played there. 

In 1976 a Pakistan International Airlines side –  which drew the big names of Pakistan cricket such as Wasim Bari, Majid Khan, and Sarfraz Nawaz – came over to play.  In fact that  was the precursor to the heady days ahead, although first a proper ground was required. Abdul Rahman Bukhatir, who was known as “ the father of cricket” in U.A.E. earmarked a plot of land by the Sharjah Sports Club and, with the advantage of having a construction company as part of his portfolio, set about building one.


The first ODI was played way back in 1984 in Sharjah, when Pakistan faced Sri Lanka . Pakistan had Zaheer Abbas as captain and Srilankan team was headed by the diminutive Duleep Mendis.  When Srilankan tigers prevailed over Pakistan and coasted to victory with consummate ease by 5 wickets.  Arjuna Ranatunga took 3 for 38 and Roy Dias made a match-winning 57. 

But it was a match in 1981  that marked the beginning of Sharjah’s international days, when a Sunil Gavaskar XI faced a Javed Miandad XI on an astroturf wicket which was won by Javed Miandad XI.  This match generated a lot of heat as so many expats were from India and Pakistan and they acted as the 12th man for the teams. Though not an official international, given what would develop over the next 20 years it was arguably one of the most significant cricket matches. It was played as the Hanif Mohammad and Asif Iqbal benefit match , a theme that would become central to Sharjah cricket through the creation of the Cricketers Benefit Fund Series, for which the driving force was Bukhatir, who wanted to give something back to long-serving players.

Sharjah cricket Stadium. Courtesy : cricinfo.com

“In the initial days it was sometimes scary,” Mazhar remembers. “We had our first match with 8000-10,000 people sitting on the temporary scaffolding.”


Of all the famous matches here played in a surcharged atmosphere, Sachin Tendulkar’s Desert storm in the hot summer of April 1998 stands out tall at Sharjah.  In the heat gathering storm, the Master blaster hit back to back centuries against the Aussies and helped India to win the Coco-Cola cup title .

Pakistan’s Javed Miandad’s final ball six in the Austral-Asia cup in 1986 when India’s  Chetan Sharma try to bowl a yorker when 4 runs were required in the final ball but the Pakistan’s fox converted that shot and sent the ball into the stadium stands for a 6 and won the final.

In 2002, the invincible Aussies inflicted a humiliating Innings defeat on Pakistan in both Tests played here including a 58 & 59 runs in the 2nd Test. It was Pakistan’s worst performance in Tests at Sharjah as the Test was over inside 2 days.


Courtesy : cricinfo.com

A board conspicuously displayed at Sharjah International Cricket ground ( in U.A.E.) way back in 2015  it held the record of  hosting most  ODIs (218) which is a world record. And even today in 2021 it holds the record of hosting the most ODIs( 240).


 By 2011 the ground was suitable for the return of Full Member sides. When Pakistan,which adopted U.A.E. as a second home, it played host to a Test with Srilanka. The “home” supporters were given a treat, as Shahid Afridi produced a magnificent all-round display, first hitting 75 off 65 balls to lift Pakistan from 97 for 6 and then claimed five wickets after Sri Lanka had been 155 for 3 chasing 201. Sharjah was back.

“The less famous part of the Sharjah story is its role as a Test venue: England became the fifth “visiting” nation to play there when the ground hosted its 8th Test in 2015. However, Sharjah was the original neutral venue in the UAE – before Dubai and Abu Dhabi had international grounds — when Pakistan needed a second home.

Till now Sharjah stadium has hosted 9 Tests for Pakistan out of which Pakistan won 4 tests and lost 4 tests.

Later on, the strife ridden Afghanistan has adopted Sharjah as its home ground and played T20I matches here


Photo courtesy : Dubai Sports city

Project details

  • Year 2008
  • Work started in 2006
  • Work finished in 2008
  • Contractor Dubai Sports City
  • Cost approx. € 75 Million
  • Status Completed works
  • Type Sports Centres / Stadiums / Sports Facilities

Photo courtesy : archilovers.com

The Dubai International stadium  is a  multi – purpose stadium, in DUBAI, U.A.E. . It is mainly used for  cricket. It has a capacity of 25,000 spectators, but is expandable to 30,000 spectators. It is a part of the DUBAI SPORTS city .

The Dubai Cricket Stadium was designed by the internationally renowned architects Gerkan, Marg and Partners, based in Germany. -The roof structure was constructed in a cross-vaulted style. Steel trusses were covered with a laminated PTFE membrane. The structure provides cover for all the seats in the arena and offers protection from the sun and wind. – The roof pitch meets today’s ICC standards. – The 82 seats for sports journalists and 7 commentator boxes meet the requirements of today’s media. – ALPINE constructed one of the most modern sports stadiums in the world in just 28 months. 

The Dubai International Stadium is lit by a special system of floodlights named “Ring of Fire”. The 350 floodlights are fixed around the circumference of its round roof, thereby minimizing the shadows of objects in the ground and having no light towers.

So far, 62 T20I matches have been staged at the venue. And Pakistan which has adopted as Home ground played 13 Tests and out of which 7 tests were won by them.  And this ground hosted 34 ODIs including Asia Cup and Tri-nation series in which the local U.A.E.  team participated and won the two games.

The stadium will be one of the dedicated venues for the  2021 ICC Men’s T20 WORLD CUP  and is scheduled to host the Semi Final 2 and the Final of the latter on November 11, 2021 and November 14, 2021 respectively.

Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi

Courtesy : sportstime.com

The Zayed Cricket Stadium was first opened in 2006. It is a picturesque venue and one of the largest stadiums in the world in terms of ground area. The biggest challenge for teams in Abu Dhabi will be the length of the boundary ropes. With most Indian grounds having smaller boundaries, power hitters will play a massive role in matches staged in Abu Dhabi.

There has only been one score of 200 or more made in a T20I in Abu Dhabi in the 45 matches played at the venue. The team batting second has won 25 of the 45 matches played here in international T20s.

Abu Dhabi has practice net facilities with 24 lanes adjacent to each other meaning that there will be no shortage of space for preparations for the teams. There are also two other ovals, all of which are of standards befitting first-class cricket, aside from the Zayed Cricket Stadium.

It has hosted 14 Tests  out of this 12 Tests for Pakistan and 2 Tests for Afghanistan.  It also hosted 52 ODIs and 48 T20Is.

It will also be hosting T20 World cup matches later this year.