Abu Dhabi Cricket thrilled to welcome back fans for IPL, says Matt Boucher

© Provided by Khaleej Times Abu Dhabi Cricket thrilled to welcome back fans for IPL, says Matt Boucher

The Indian Premier League resumes in UAE next week, with fans back in the stands as the biggest T20 franchise competition in the world returns to Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Cricket Stadium for the third time in its history.

Having previously hosted seven games in 2014 when the first half of the tournament was held in UAE, and 22 matches of last year’s competition that played out entirely across the emirates, Abu Dhabi is the venue for eight of this year’s remaining fixtures.

The first of which takes place at Zayed Cricket Stadium on September 20 with England’s World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan leading his Kolkata Knight Riders outfit out against India captain Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore in what is a blockbuster start to the IPL in Abu Dhabi. Following approval from The National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) and Abu Dhabi Sports Council and with the support of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the IPL’s resumption will see the return of fans to Zayed Cricket Stadium for the first time since the final match of the Abu Dhabi T10 on November 24, 2019.

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The BCCI and all of Abu Dhabi’s local partners are working tirelessly to ensure the safety of supporters.

They have been able to ensure that stadiums will operate at a maximum of 2,200 fans for the initial matches of the tournament. “We’re excited to be hosting the VIVO Indian Premier League back in Abu Dhabi and absolutely thrilled to be able to safely welcome fans to the Zayed Cricket Stadium ahead of an action-packed start to the season that also includes the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and our third edition of the firecracker Abu Dhabi T10,” said Matt Boucher, CEO of Abu Dhabi Cricket.

“Cricket fans are extra special and we’ve missed having that unique noise and enthusiasm at our stadium over the last 18 months. Our enormous thanks to BCCI for their confidence in Abu Dhabi and to our local partners, spearheaded – as always – by the incredible team at Abu Dhabi Sports Council.”

After Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore get things underway, the Zayed Cricket Stadium will then see reigning champions Mumbai Indians take on two-time winners KKR on September 23.

It makes that showdown a home derby for Abu Dhabi.

Kolkata Knight Riders’ Dinesh Karthik is one of the players settling into Abu Dhabi and the 36-year-old wicketkeeper batsman says it’s a ‘no-brainer’ for him and his side to base themselves at the Zayed Cricket Stadium.

“The facilities are top notch and when you come here you know that the Abu Dhabi Sports Council has set it up so well that you just can’t say that it’s not the best facilities that you’ve ever been part of,” said Karthik.

“It’s a no-brainer from our side to keep coming here because we get the best facilities, the wickets are good throughout and I hope (Abu Dhabi Cricket) go from strength to strength.”

Karthik is also delighted that he and his team will be playing in front of fans in Abu Dhabi. “I’m very, very excited. There’s no doubt that every one of us is excited to be playing to a crowd. That is something we have really missed and I’m really looking forward to it.”

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