Abu Dhabi: The big hitting performances,by Kieron Pollard (Deccan Gladiators) and Chris Lynn (Maratha Arabians) drove their teams to victory on the fourth day of the Aldar Properties Abu Dhabi T10 here today.
The Gladiators beat the Karnataka Tuskers through the shots of Pollard, the Arabians blasted past Team Abu Dhabi, and the Bangla Tigers and the Delhi Bulls drew on 108 in a thrilling final match to end the night.
Shane Watson’s Deccan Gladiators put the Karnataka Tuskers into bat, and the men in light-blue attempted a fast-paced charge to post a target with a comfortable margin. Johnson Charles and Evin Lewis began the innings, seeking to find a foundation on which to build, before Lewis was bowled in the third over by an electric Zahir Khan delivery.
Hashim Amla picked up the chase and sought with Charles to find the boundary rope in the face of the Gladiators’ bowling attack.
The Gladiators’ pierced the Tuskers’ partnership with the wicket of Charles for 35 off a quick 18 deliveries. English county cricketer Ross Whiteley joined Captain Amla at the crease, adding thirteen runs to the Tuskers’ scoreboard, before being caught by Watson at the end of the penultimate over. Sri Lanka’s Upul Tharanga and Amla completed the Tuskers’ innings, posting a high but not impossible target of 110 to beat.
Captain Shane Watson lost his wicket in the first over of the Gladiators’ innings, setting the omen for a top order collapse that toppled Afghan Mohammad Shahzad for 13, England’s Dan Lawrence for 11, and Kiwi Anton Devcich for 5, leaving the Gladiators requiring a steep 74 runs from a short 33 balls.
The Tuskers’ victory seemed inevitable, until Kieron Pollard walked onto the pitch. Pollard blasted away the Tuskers’ bowling attack, swatting ball after ball to the boundary in spite of the Tuskers’ efforts. In the sixth over, Pollard pulled 30 runs onto the board, as the Tuskers sought to regain control in a match that was slipping from them. The loss of Sri Lanka’s Bhanuka Rajapaksa didn’t quell the Gladiators’ fight back, with tense aggression gripping the field through the final overs. Pollard closed the innings on 45 off 22, winning the match for the Gladiators by five wickets with nine balls remaining.
Shane Watson, Captain of the Deccan Gladiators, commented: “We are really fortunate to have a player like Pollard coming in to our middle over. The way he bats, like he showed today, he can take the game away from opponents in an over.”
Speaking after match, Hashim Amla, Captain of the Karnataka Tuskers, said: “Pollard played a seriously good knock, although we played a really good game. But when a player of his calibre delivers a performance like that, sometimes you just have to tip your hat to opponents and move on.”
Maratha Arabians vs. Team Abu Dhabi
After being placed into bat, the Maratha Arabians’ openers Hazratullah Zazai and Chris Lynn set off sprinting, racing to 37 in three overs. Team Abu Dhabi’s Ben Laughlin took the wicket of Hazratullah for 12, as Adam Lyth entered the fray. Smart running between the wickets and some thunderous shots including four consecutive sixes from Lynn catapulted the Arabians to 58 by the fifth over. Team Abu Dhabi struggled as Lynn reached a magnificent half century off only 19 deliveries, to the chagrin of opposition Captain Moeen Ali.
The Arabians were on track to post the highest score of the championship so far. The bowlers in yellow toiled, but Lyth and Lynn could not be halted by the deliveries of bowlers such as Marchant de Lange and Harry Gurney. In spite of Lyth’s dismissal in the final over, Team Abu Dhabi could not constrain the rampant Arabians, closing on 139, the highest total of the tournament so far.
Local boys, Team Abu Dhabi, faced a daunting run chase ahead and a lethal bowling attack packed with the experience of Sri Lankan death bowler Lasith Malinga and New Zealander Mitchell McClenaghan. Despite the odd boundary, the variation shown by the Maratha Arabians’ bowlers restricted Team Abu Dhabi to a low 22 in the first three overs.
After Niroshan Dickwella was taken by a stunning dive catch from behind the stumps by Chadwick Walton, it fell to Moeen Ali to rebuild the chase, using his power hitting skills and smooth drives to leave his team needing 87 runs from 36 balls. However, Moeen mistimed a drive, presenting an easy catch for Walton. In spite of a defiant innings by England’s Luke Wright, Team Abu Dhabi fans were left praying for a magical big over that never came. In spite of Team Abu Dhabi posting a respectable 114, the Maratha Arabians sealed their victory and their place at the top of group B in the Aldar Properties Abu Dhabi T10 with a 24 run lead.
Man of the Match, Chris Lynn, said: “It was a bit gutting that I didn’t reach my century, which would have been the first of the T10, but toward the last few overs my partner at the other end was also hitting boundaries. At the end of the day, I’m just pleased we had a good result and managed to win.”
Despite not having played today, the legendary Yuvraj Singh, batsman for the Maratha Arabians, commented: “T10 is a very fast paced game, and slowly you get used to the tempo, but you have to be switched on all the time. I think we bounced back very well from our opening defeat, and there is a lot of confidence in our abilities as a team.”
Captain of Team Abu Dhabi, Moeen Ali, said in the post-match interview: “We played on a fresh wicket today, and Lynn damaged us with everything he’s got, so we are obviously bitterly disappointed. As a batsman I know that when you find your rhythm, it’s very difficult for someone to stop you. It is not going to be long before we see the first century of this tournament.”
Delhi Bulls vs. Bangla Tigers
Rilee Rossouw and Andre Fletcher opened the Bangla Tigers’ innings after skipper Thisara Perera won the toss and elected to bat. Fletcher sought to open his arm and recreate his performance from the previous night of action, but a catch from Sherfane Rutherford put an end to his big-hitting ambitions dismissed for 8. Colin Ingram lasted just two deliveries at the crease before his own departure for 4. Rossouw and Moores sought tempo and runs, finding occasional boundaries, before both batsmen were caught by the West Indies’ Rutherford.
The Bulls’ bowlers sniffed wickets, and found them in quick succession. Perera was next to fall for six and Robbie Frylinck for 11. At 84 with 12 balls remaining, the Tigers needed to sprint for more wickets and South African David Weise and the UAE’s own Chirag Suri sought chances. In spite of his wicket on the match’s penultimate delivery, Weise managed to find opportunities to lift the ball over the boundary rope twice, placing his team on a defendable 108.
England’s pace machine, Liam Plunkett, delivered the speedy wicket of the UAE’s Muhammad Usman. The Bulls’ spirits were not dampened by the Tigers’ attack, with Kusal Perera and Sherfane Rutherford slipping through and over the deep fielders to the crowds’ delight. Perera fell on a strong 43 off a mere 18 deliveries, followed by Rutherford two overs later on 18, bringing the Bulls to require 46 off 29 deliveries.
Angelo Mathews and Eoin Morgan created a steady partnership, with a keen sense of finding weaknesses in the Tigers’ fielding strategy. Plunkett and David Weise tried to find a chink in the Bulls’ armour, but Morgan and Mathews avoided the Tigers’ traps with care. However, such caution found the Bulls short by 17 runs at the start of the final over, leading to a boundary from Mathews and a six from Morgan. The batsmen’s desperation for runs led to Mathews being run out in the second-to-last ball of the match, and the Bulls finished the innings, locked with the Tigers, both sitting on 108.
Man of the Match, Kusal Perera of the Delhi Bulls, commented: “When I bat, I’m always trying to be positive, looking to take risky shots, because in the T10 you don’t have that much time to settle in and make runs. But all in all, we have to take the tie as a positive result for us today.”
Thisara Perera commented on the Bangla Tiger’s performance: “That’s the T10 for you. You never really know what’s going to happen until the very last ball. At times it looked they were going to win, but then we snatched some of the momentum back, and it ended in a very exciting draw.”