Her name may remind you of golf, but it’s not the club that Aditi Ashok Lakhwni prefers to swing. Give her the cricket bat – or for that matter – the ball every day.
The all-rounder, who plays here for Indian School Wadi Kabir, can’t quite hide her excitement at the Al Amerat Cricket Stadium on this windy evening. She just saw her favorite cricketer Kevin Pietersen hit the net.
Aditi is excited to see Shoaib Akhtar, another cricketer she admires, in action soon. And when the former Pakistani fast-bowling superstar throws the first pitch of the India Maharajas innings, the stadium explodes.
The cheers are loud from the spectators, who have paid somewhere between 10 and 130 Omani Rials for their tickets. The Legends League Cricket, the inaugural edition of a tournament bringing together some of the world’s best retired cricketers, is off to a great start.
Aditi Ashok Lakhwani, Alifiya Sayed and Shifa Kazi. – PK AJITH KUMAR
“I am so happy that my first social event during this pandemic is this cricket event,” said Aditi, who has joined her teammates Shifa Kazi and Alifiya Sayed. “It’s wonderful to see all these great cricketers in action.”
Among the former greats competing for Asia Lions – brought in by Maharaja captain Mohammed Kaif – Upul Tharanga (66, 46b) and skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (44, 30b) looked good. They helped the Lions place 175 for seven. Seamers Manpreet Gony and Irfan Pathan scalped five.
The score is more than what the curator CK Anoop had said it would be par (150 to 160). “It’s a good hitting course, but there would also be something for bowlers, sailors and spinners alike,” he says. “A tournament like this is great for cricket in Oman.”
Moments later, Pietersen tells the contingent of Indian reporters that it’s a great concept. “It’s unique to get recently retired cricketers together,” says the former England batter, one of the most entertaining of his generation. “The second season could be even better.”
The opening game of the first edition proved entertaining enough, with Yusuf Pathan making a relentless 80 on 40 balls. His fourth wicket score of 117 with Kaif (42 no, 37b) saw Maharajas come home – with five balls left – to the delight of Aditi and other Indian expats.
(The writer is in Muscat at the invitation of Legends League Cricket)