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Update Emirates Cricket Board to launch six-team T20 league
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Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) has announced the launch of an IPL-style Twenty20 league of its own. It will be held in December-January (2021-22), the ECB said on Tuesday (February 9) and claimed that the venture has the blessings of Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, a powerful minister in the UAE Government, and also the chairman of the ECB.

The ECB has also revealed that it has received expressions of interest from many a party across the cricketing nations, particularly from India. "Many have shown interests," Mubashir Usmani, the general secretary of the ECB, told Cricbuzz. Among the interested parties are a few IPL teams, businessmen from India and Bollywood stars, the ECB official confirmed.

The ECB plans to have six franchises initially and will finalise the stakeholders within a month. "That is our plan. We will complete the whole process of ownership in a month and then sit with them and decide the modalities of the tournament," Usmani said stating that the salary cap for the players will be high. "It will be done in consultation with the owners but the plan is to match it with the best of the leagues in the world, if not the IPL standards," he asserted.

A couple of years ago, the Emirates board had come close to starting the tournament involving four IPL franchises - Kolkata Knight Riders, Delhi Capitals, Chennai Super Kings and another franchise. The UAE officials had even flown to Mumbai to discuss the details but the launch of the tournament was deferred. Usmani said the board is now serious about starting the six-team league this time around.

Announcing the project, the ECB said in a statement, "Like all other successful global league models, the T20 league in the UAE will be franchise based which will attract major international cricketers. Modalities of the League are being finalized."

Dr. Tayeb Kamali, ECB board member and selection committee chairman of the ECB, commented, "We are delighted with the launch of our own T20 League, one we believe will enhance the growth and popularity of cricket being played in the UAE. We also envisage that UAE-based players will continue to flourish through such opportunities as they continue to make their mark on the international stage.

"We see this League as another premier addition to our growing tournament calendar. Emirates Cricket, and the UAE, has a proven history of identifying and embracing initiatives that underpin the success of the game, as well as encourage and develop home-grown talent." said Khalid Al Zarooni, ECB vice-chairman and board member Asian Cricket Council.

UAE, with international standard grounds in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, has become a cricketing hub lately. The IPL was held here last year, Pakistan had been playing its home international games for quite some time and a recent entrant to the desert kingdom is Afghanistan, which has started hosting its games there.

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