ILT20 serves up drama in Giants-Knight Riders, Capitals-MI Emirates double header

DUBAI: Gulf Giants and the Abu Dhabi Knight Riders served up a nail-biting finish to their International League T20 match on Saturday, matching the late-night drama on Friday in the Dubai Capitals and Desert Vipers match.

At the start of play, both the Giants and the Knight Riders sat on ten points.

The result would determine each team’s final league position. At stake was a second-place finish and participation in Qualifier 1 in the knockout stage, which pits the top two teams against each other for a place in the final. The loser then plays the winner of the eliminator, in which third and fourth placed teams play each other.

The Giants won the toss and chose to bat. Other than two such decisions taken by the Dubai Capitals earlier in the competition, this was the first time that a team had elected to bat. The Dubai International Stadium was bathed in afternoon sunshine, ideal conditions for batting.

James Vince and Jamie Cox opened for the Giants. Vince was badly dropped in the covers off the fifth ball of the first over. He went to make the opposition pay, reaching 50 in the twelve over before being caught by the same fielder who dropped him in over one. Cox, who put on a hundred opening partnership with Vince, went on to make 57.

After the departure of both openers, the scoring rate slowed in the face of accurate bowling by Sunil Narine and Imad Wasim. In frustrated fashion, Chris Lynn hit a short, wide ball from Ali Khan straight to extra cover. Shimron Hetmyer looked to accelerate the pace and was badly dopped at mid-off, the score on 132 for three in the seventeenth over. This proved to be costly as Hetmyer went on to make an unbeaten 39 in the Giant’s final score of 166, a competitive but not unreachable target.

The Knight Riders had an early set back when Jamie Overton bowled short to Michael Pepper, who got a leading edge to the ball which flew to Hetmyer on the cover boundary. Joe Clarke and Jason Roy ten set about the Giants attack, pushing the score to 47 for one after four overs. Overton returned for the fifth over. Clarke scores two fours through the covers before an attempt to pull a short ball is skied to the keeper. Roy and Sharafu continued to force the pace reaching 98 in the tenth over. The introduction of the UAE’s Aayan Afzal Khan works the magic as Roy, in trying to heave an off break into the leg side, misses and is bowled, much to his bewilderment, for 47.

Zuhaib Zubair makes the next breakthrough, inducing Sharafu to advance down the wicket, rashly. He mises the ball and is stumped, 104 for four. Laurie Evans and Imad Wasim batted cautiously, until Evans took on Zubair to take the score to 122 after 14 overs. Evans greeted Overton’s return by taking eleven from four balls, before another bouncer undid Wasim. At the end of the fifteenth over, the Kight Riders required 34 runs from 30 balls, still favourites despite losing five wickets. However, it seems that Giants never give up. Chris Jordan’s experience and ability to bowl a yorker claimed the wicket of Fabian Allen. David Willey was run out by Blessing Muzarabani’s throw, going for a tight second run and Jordan bowled Kalyan next ball to make it 156 for eight after nineteen overs.

Jordan and Overton had completed their four overs. Muzarabani was entrusted with the final over, with eleven runs needed. Adding to the tension, the third delivery was a leg-side wide, signalled as no-ball. After exchange sod singles, Evans hit the fifth ball to long on, Narine came back for a second run but was run out by Overton’s throw. As in the previous match, a six was required for victory from the final ball. It was delivered towards the leg stump and Evans, having backed away to leg to give himself room, could only shovel the ball for one run. The Giants had stood tall again when the odds were against them, this time to win by three runs.

Also on Saturday, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth, 2 for 23, Waqar Salamkheil, 2 for A and Dan Mouseley, 2 for 22, starred for the Capitals as they defended a total of 147 for nine against the MI Emirates.

The first ball of the MI Emirates innings was bowled by Scott Kuggeleijn to Muhammad Waseem, who steered the ball to third man, where the catch was dropped. Only two runs came from that over. However, the score picked up to reach 46 after four overs, only to be restrained by the spin of Haider Ali, who finished with 3 for 16 and Zahir Khan, 2 for 23.

Together they reduced the MI Emirates to 73 for five after ten overs. Sikandar Raza, 1 for 23, reinforced this pressure. Andre Fletcher stood firm, but he was dismissed in the sixteenth over for 45 by Haider Ali.

After that, the introduction of the pace of Olly Stone and Kuggeleijn strangled the lower order, who could only take the final score to 128 for eight.

The MI Emirates captain, Keiron Pollard, was not happy with his sides batting saying that it was an occasion to bat deep down the order.

However, victory for the Capitals meant that they raised themselves into fourth position. Barring a sensational result in the final group match between the Sharjah Warriors and Desert Vipers, this should ensure a place in the Eliminator. 

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