(MENAFN- Khaleej Times)
Published: Tue 24 Jan 2023, 10:46 PM
Those hoping for a cliffhanger at the majestic Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi were left dejected. It was another one-sided affair in the DP World ILT20 as the Desert Vipers rode on the brilliance of Alex Hales to turn a tricky chase into a cake walk.
Only one match out of 15 at the brand-new tournament has treated fans to a last-over thriller when MI Emirates scored 20 off the last six balls to pull off a stunning victory over the Abu Dhabi Knight Riders on January 21.
While there have been brilliant individual and team performances, this tournament so far has lacked the drama and tension of last-over finishes.
On Tuesday, the Emirates were given a whiff of chance by their burly left-arm spinner Samit Patel who struck twice in the same over.
The Vipers, chasing 170, were 76 for three in the eighth over when Patel dismissed the dangerous Colin Munro (41, 22 balls, 4 fours, 3 sixes), who was brilliantly caught in the deep by Kieron Pollard, and Sam Billings (1).
With 94 needed off 73 balls, a few more blows at that stage would have changed the match completely.
But the prolific Hales (62 not out, 44 balls, 6 fours, 2 sixes), easily the player of the tournament so far, allowed Sherfane Rutherford, the swashbuckling West Indian, to take the centre stage.
Rutherford (56 not out off 29 balls, 4 fours, 3 sixes) made the mockery of the MI Emirates bowling attack featuring Trent Boult to complete an emphatic seven-wicket victory for the Vipers with 21 balls remaining.
Pollard, the MI Emirates skipper, admitted that his team were at least 30 runs short after losing two early wickets in their innings.
The former West Indies captain rolled back the years with six massive sixes in his unbeaten 67 off 39 balls as he shared 114-runs for the fourth wicket with Nicholas Pooran (57 off 49 balls, 4 fours, 2 sixes). Kieron Pollard of MI Emirates looks hit six sixes. -- Supplied photo
But it was always a tough task to take the team closer to the 200-run mark after losing their openers – local boys Muhammad Wasim (5) and Vriitya Aravind (3) – early.
“We didn't get off to a great start. So obviously when you start on the backfoot, you have to build partnerships, try to build the momentum. I think were slow at the start, so we couldn't put up a big score,” Pollard admitted at the post-match presentation.
Munroe, his counterpart, was all praise for his bowling attack which was led wonderfully by Sheldon Cottrell (4-0-20-1).
“Our bowlers set it up well for us. Pooran and Pollard put up a big partnership, another day, they could have taken the team to 200, but our bowlers did an outstanding job today,” he said. Alex Hales of Desert Vipers plays a shot. -- Supplied photo
Munroe then doffed his hat to Hales, the tournament's highest-scorer with 418 runs from five matches (four 50s, one 100, average 139.33, strike rate 161.38), who paced his innings superbly on Tuesday.
“We have one of the best in the game now, Alex Hales. To see him take responsibility like he has tonight, it's not the normal explosive knock that he usually does, but it was unbelievable. It was outstanding to watch,” said the Vipers skipper whose team have now moved up to the top position in the points table with eight points from five matches.
Desert Vipers beat MI Emirates by seven wickets.
MI Emirates 169 for 5 in 20 overs (Andre Fletcher 21, Nicholas Pooran 57, Kieron Pollard 67n.o, Tom Curran 2 for 38)
Desert Vipers 170 for 3 in 16.3 overs (Alex Hales 62n.o, Colin Munro 41, Sherfane Rutherford 56n.o, Samit Patel 2 for 23)
Player of Match: Sherfane Rutherford
Gulf Giants vs Abu Dhabi Knight Riders
Dubai International Stadium
6 pm UAE Time
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