DUBAI: Gulf Giants rallied superbly to defend the lowest total in International League T20 history on Tuesday, posting 126 for the loss of nine wickets but still managing to beat Dubai Capitals by 19 runs.
Both teams were on six points from seven matches before the clash, with the Giants having a superior run rate. David Warner, captain of the Capitals, won the toss and elected for his team to bowl.
After one over of spin that leaked 10 runs, the skipper turned to his fast bowlers. Scott Kuggeleijn soon rewarded that decision, forcing Jamie Smith into skying the ball into the covers for an easy catch.
At the other end, in adjusting to the pace of Olly Stone, Chris Lynn scooped the ball out toward square leg where Kuggeleijn took an outstanding catch, grabbing the ball just before it hit the ground. The next ball, Stone beat Jamie Cox for pace, the ball shaping back in to strike the stumps.
There was to be no hat-trick, but another wicket was claimed by Kuggeleijn to another fine catch, reducing the score to 19 for four after four overs. Deep in trouble, captain James Vince and Shimron Hetmyer set about rescuing the innings, in what turned out to be a crucial partnership.
Hetmyer survived a close leg before call and a difficult dropped catch. He and Vince then upped the tempo, but Vince fell in the process, edging a slog-sweep to fine leg. In the next four overs, the scoring rate dropped sharply as Aayan Afzal Khan was allowed to keep the strike.
Try as he might, he was unable to connect with the ball to score other than singles. His coach then took the step of retiring him out.
Wickets continued to fall, until Dominic Drakes launched three sixes in a score of 24 which enabled a competitive, but below par, total of 126 for nine. In the process, he ruined Stone’s figures of four for six in three overs, turning them into four for 16 in four overs, but still impressive.
Kuggeleijn claimed three for 29. It was a great spectacle watching the batters trying to cope with his and Stone’s pace. In his post-match interview, Stone said that the ball “was nipping around a bit.”
The question was, could the Giants defend this total? The Capitals adopted a steady approach for the first two overs. In the third over, Warner became more aggressive but was out 11.
For a player of such pedigree, he has scored only 125 runs in eight innings in a tournament in which he will play no further part, as he leaves to return to his Australian duties.
Another wicket fell in the fourth over, and one in the sixth over but, at 48 for three, the Capitals seemed to be in the driving seat. Sikandar Raza and Ben Dunk sought to consolidate this position until a calamitous run out ended Dunk’s innings.
The introduction of Aayan Afzal Khan for the 12th over produced immediate dividends as Sikandar Raja, playing for the turn, was left flat-footed and bowled, the delivery going straight on.
At 74 for six, things had gone wrong for the Capitals, who then made things worse for themselves. Kuggeleijn pushed the ball to extra cover and ran, but his partner was not interested, leaving Kuggeleijn stranded.
Stone did not last long and all the pressure was on Dasun Shanaka. It proved too much for him and the Capitals fell short by 19 runs in a remarkable turnaround for the Giants.
Their captain James Vince was awarded player of the match for stabilizing the innings, and for his astute captaincy.