Legends league | Former stars bring joy to the fans
Her name may make you think of golf, but it is not the club that Aditi Ashok Lakhwni prefers to swing. Give her the cricket bat — or ball for that matter — any day.
The seaming all-rounder, who plays for Indian School Wadi Kabir here, cannot hide her excitement at the Al Amerat Cricket Stadium on this windy night. She has just watched her favourite cricketer Kevin Pietersen bat at the nets.
Aditi is thrilled she will be able to watch another player she admires: Shoaib Akhtar. And when the legendary Pakistan fast bowler comes on to bowl the first ball of the India Maharajs innings, the stadium erupts.
The cheers are loud from the spectators, who have paid anywhere between 10 and 130 Omani Rials for their tickets. The Legends League Cricket, the first edition of a tournament that brings together some of the world’s finest retired cricketers, has got off to a solid start.
“I am so happy that my first social event during this pandemic is this cricket event,” says Aditi, who has come along with her teammates Shifa Kazi and Alifiya Sayed. “It is lovely to watch all these great cricketers in action.”
Among those who batted for Asia Lions — put in by Maharajs captain Mohammed Kaif — Upul Tharanga (66, 46b) and skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (44, 30b) looked in good touch. They helped Lions post 175 for seven. Seamers Manpreet Gony and Irfan Pathan scalped five between them.
The score is more than what the curator C.K. Anoop had said would be par (150 to 160). “A tournament like this is great for cricket in Oman,” he says.
A little later, Pietersen tells the contingent of Indian reporters that it is a great concept.”Getting recently retired cricketers together is unique,” says the former England batter, one of the most entertaining of his generation. “The second season could be even better.”
The first match of the first edition proved entertaining enough, with Yusuf Pathan making a ruthless 80 off 40 balls from. His stand of 117 for the fourth wicket with Kaif (42 n.o., 37b) ensured Maharajs got home — with five balls to spare — much to the delight of Aditi and other Indian expatriates.
(The writer is in Muscat at the invitation of Legends League Cricket).