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2am cricket during ramadan..

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    2am cricket during ramadan..



    United Arab Emirates: Cricket at 2am as the Ramadan Floodlit Festival draws big crowds
    4 December 2000
    Cricket at 2am, played on a lush outfield under floodlights, in a city in then middle of desert, a part of the social fabric during a period of utmost religious significance.
    Is there a competition which better reflects how cricket has been adapted to the local culture at non-Test level than the present Ramadin Floodlit Cricket Tournament being played at the moment in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates?
    Probably not, if you ask the enthusiastic crowds coming out to see players such as India's Vinod Kambli, ironically playing for Lahore-based Castle CC, one of three foreign based outfits competing in this most unique competition.
    The 9pm starting time fits neatly for the expatriates of mainly Asian subcontinental origin making up the large crowds who nightly go to matches after attending prayer sessions and the daily breaking of the fast observed during Ramadin.
    "Ramadan is a festival holy month which includes good entertainment and the tournament is an important part of that," organiser, Ejaz Brahman said. "It's a reunion of old friends who get an opportunity to sit and chat."
    UAE captain, Saeed-Al-Saffar, said it has the feel of a carnival with crowds extremely vocal.
    "Played in the holy month of Ramadan, it has an atmosphere of its own. It's a family thing with lots of children attending," Saeed said this week. "The crowds are very energetic, making lots of noise with plenty of cheering."
    With Sharjah adhering to Islamic law, it's a natural passion for cricket.
    As fasting occurs during daylight hours, the stalls outside the ground selling Indian food and barbeque chickens are extremely popular. (And your correspondent can confirm the food surpasses that sold at the Sydney Cricket Ground).
    Castle, along with East Yorkshire's Osterley CC, and last year's runners-up, Oman's top club, Raha head up a 12 team A Division field comprising the best from the various emirates which constitute the UAE.
    Such is the strength of the local sides, which field the best of the Indian and Pakistani expats living and working in the Emirates, that the UAE national side which recently won the Asian Cricket Council Trophy, struggles to beat 'B' Division teams.
    (And there are some talented cricketers in the UAE national team).
    Indeed, Emirates Airline thrashed the national team, which plays under the guise of Emirates Cricket Board Colts, by 101 runs in the tournament's opening A Division match last Wednesday.
    Khurram Khan's 74 off 63 balls and Zulfiquar Ali's 32 from 25 helped guide Emirates Airlines to a formidable 242-8 from its 35 overs, while Murali Sockalingham chipped in with 43.
    Ali then damaged the Colts' top order, taking 3-23, supporting Zulfiquar Butt (3-11) as it limped to 141-9 from 35 overs.
    Abu Dhabi's Union National Bank, defending champion of the UAE's most prestigeous tournament, the A Division of the Bukhatir League, received an early shock when it lost its first match against Expats CC last Thursday.
    UNB could only manage 164-6 from its allotted 35 overs, before Arshad Ali struck an unbeaten 95 not out to guide Expats to a shock six wicket win in 32.5 overs.
    It's not just the crowds and the A Division players soaking up the event. For the 16 B Division teams, it's a welcome chance to play on an international standard field.
    A turf wicket replaces the usual cement pitch, while a lush outfield replaces sandy, grassless grounds.
    It's also a unique chance for them to play before sizeable crowds, with many of the 'B' Division matches which start at 3pm preceding the 'A' Division games.
    CricInfo Ltd
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