The International T20 (ILT20) has produced some top-class cricket, featuring some of the biggest stars in T20 cricket like Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Kieron Pollard to name a few. Along with veteran campaigners like these, this has given a platform for a few upcoming stars and also dug out new talent, especially from the UAE and other associate teams.
Shubh Aggarwal had captured some of the key moments of the first half of the tournament. We now take a look at some of the top moments from yet another riveting set of matches.
Before we go there, let’s take a look at the points table. Gulf Giants, Desert Vipers, MI Emirates and Dubai Capitals have made it to the playoffs, while Sharjah Warriors and Abu Dhabi Knight Riders are out. The Knight Riders in fact managed to win just one of their 10 games, while the Warriors' failure to beat the Giants in their final group game sees them out too.
The playoffs fixtures are similar to how the Indian Premier League (IPL) has gone about things over the years, i.e, 1 vs 2 (Qualifier 1) and 3 vs 4 (Eliminator). The winner of Qualifier 1 makes it to the final directly, while the loser of that fixture will have another crack, as that team takes on the winner of the Eliminator in Qualifier 2. The winner of that game will then play the winner of Qualifier 1 in the final.
Qualifier 1: Gulf Giants vs Desert Vipers, Dubai (Wednesday, February 8)
Eliminator: MI Emirates vs Dubai Capitals, Sharjah (Thursday, February 9)
Qualifier 2: Loser of Qualifier 1 vs Winner of Eliminator, Dubai (Friday, February 10)
Final: Winner of Qualifier 1 vs Winner of Qualifier 2, Dubai (Sunday, February 12)
With the nitty-gritties taken care of, now let’s dive into the good stuff:
Rutherford lights up Dubai
Diwali seems to have come a few months early as Sherfane Rutherford took Yusuf Pathan to the cleaners smashing five sixes in his over. All clean hits over the fence saw Pathan’s figures go from 3-0-18-1 to 4-0-48-1.
Rutherford was eventually run out for 50 off just 23, thanks to these massive hits that took his side from a precarious 76 for 4 to 182 for 7, which turned out to be a match-winning knock.
Following Ashwin’s footsteps?
Ireland wicketkeeper-batter Lorcan Tucker became the latest player to walk out of the park retired out, allowing Nicholas Pooran and Kieron Pollard to do the damage in the last five overs against the Knight Riders. Tucker was striking at over 143 with the score reading 122 for 1. His departure paved way for Pooran, who was out cheaply, but Pollard made it count smashing three maximums and four fours en route to his 17-ball 43 to help his side to a formidable 180.
While this sort of dismissal is quite uncommon and often looked down upon, it has proved to be an effective move. Ravichandran Ashwin did something similar in IPL 2022, when he left the park to allow Riyan Parag to take on the bowlers for the last few deliveries.
Banton lets teammate off the hook
It was an interesting piece of action. David Wiese running in bowls a well-disguised slower delivery, back of length to Tom Curran and he misses. While setting off to steal a run, he slips and falls. Seeing this, Tom Banton, the wicketkeeper for Gulf Giants does not shy at the stumps and instead hangs on to the ball, much to the surprise of another Englishman, his captain James Vince.
Curran was batting well at that point on 31 off 20, and he finished unbeaten on 42 off 33!
Nepal wicketkeeper Aasif Sheikh had won ICC’s Spirit of cricket award for a similar gesture during a T20I against Ireland last year. Andy McBrine collided with the bowler and fell in the middle of the pitch running in from the non-striker’s end. The ball was then thrown to Sheikh who had ample time to knock the wicket over, but decided against it, once again dividing the cricketing world.
Luckily for Banton, the Vipers fell 25 runs short in the end.
Glazer in the house!
The Glazers have been synonymous with Manchester United Football Club for decades now and have now dipped their feet in cricket too acquiring the Desert Vipers in the ILT20. Mark Watt, Vipers spinner, in a chat with Cricket.com, revealed how the owners made him and the entire side made them feel at home.
“I think it's pretty cool that football owners have signed on for cricket. They're doing the right thing. I'm an Arsenal fan. Hopefully, the owners don't make it too awkward [laughs]. The owners have been really good to us so far. We are grateful for that. Long may it continue. I'm really enjoying it so far,” Watt said.
Avram Glazer, Chairman, Lancer Capital, the owner of Desert Vipers, were in attendance to see his side in action against Gulf Giants in Dubai, but they failed to cross the finish line. They will have another crack at Gulf Giants in the Qualifier 1 on Wednesday (February 8).
A fatal birthday
Dominic Drakes’ 25th birthday started off well. He had bowled two overs for just seven runs keeping the explosive duo of Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Rahmanullah Gurbaz quiet. In the sixth over of the innings, Sharjah Warriors skipper Moeen Ali pulled a short ball from Carlos Brathwaite. Drakes running in from deep square-leg took the catch but jarred his jaw on the ground. It did not look good and medics quickly attended to him and was stretchered off.
He was then rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and further scans. The results have not been made public just yet. If there’s any consolation, Drakes’ side Gulf Giants managed to restrict the Warriors to just 107 and then chased it down with seven wickets and 21 deliveries to spare.
Aging like fine wine
While James Anderson has been doing it consistently for years and decades, in Test cricket, David Wiese has been turning it on in T20 leagues and also for Namibia for the last couple of years or so. Wiese’s 5 or 20 against Sharjah Warriors is now the best bowling figures in the ILT20 bettering Naveen ul-Haq’s 5 for 38 against Gulf Giants on January 23.
Wiese also ends the group stages as the leading wicket-taker with 15 scalps at 11.06 to go with an economy rate of 6.08. A remarkable tournament so far for the 37-year-old.
Change in guard
The Dubai Capitals have moved on from Rovman Powell as the captain of the franchise, appointing Yusuf Pathan in his place. The Capitals had won just three of their nine matches and just before their final match of the group stage against Mumbai Emirates, the management decided to get Pathan for the remainder of the tournament. No reason has however been given for this abrupt decision.
They managed to beat MI Emirates and book their place in the playoffs and the two teams will face each other in the Eliminator on Thursday (February 9).
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