ABU DHABI 23 November 2019: The final day of matches for the group stages ended in dramatic fashion as the Maratha Arabians top the Super League stage table, Team Qalandars grab second place, Deccan Gladiators finish third and Bangla Tigers sneak into the semi-finals, with all four teams moving through to the next stage of the tournament.
A dramatic day of cricketing action that saw a gobsmacking 33 wickets fall saw a riveting performance by Team Qalanders to book their place in the semi-final, as Dawid Malan’s men put on a classy display to consign the Delhi Bulls to a defeat, knocking them out of the tournament.
Yuvraj Singh’s batting masterclass and clinical fielding display ensured that Maratha Arabians go into the next round as the team to beat, whilst the Aldar Properties Abu Dhabi T10 bid farewell to Team Abu Dhabi, Karnataka Tuskers, Delhi Bulls and the defending champions Northern Warriors.
Match Report 1: Team Qalandars vs Delhi Bulls
The Delhi Bulls opted to open the batting, breaking from conventional T10 wisdom, and the early wickets of Angelo Mathews for 5 in the first over, and of Perera and Rutherford in the third for 14 and 2 respectively, may have left the team questioning their toss decision.
Captain Eoin Morgan came onto the pitch needing to calm a spiralling side. He and young Surrey prodigy Will Jacks attempted to steady the ship, but Morgan was caught by the UAE’s Sultan Ahmed with Jacks’ taken two balls later from a diving moment of the match catch from Seekkuge Prasana.
In the face of an attacking Qalandars, the Delhi Bulls attempted to halt the haemorrhage of wickets, but the men in green were unstoppable, punishing Waheed Ahmed’s bails for a mix up when running between the wickets.
Afghanistan’s Mohammad Nabi was undeterred by his team’s collapse, and brought to his innings aggression and self-confidence, smashing the ball to every part of the stadium. Joined by England’s Adil Rashid, Nabi worked with urgency to improve the Bulls’ dire situation. His shots, however, could not be sustained, as Lahiru Kumara split Nabi’s stumps, leaving the Afghan big hitter on 48 off 21 deliveries. Kumara took his second wicket of the innings, trapping Pierre on the final delivery of the innings, giving the Qalandars a low 99 runs to chase down.
The Bulls, however, were not to let their chances in the Aldar Properties Abu Dhabi T10 slip so lightly. They began an aggressive bowling attack that was angling for wickets, and Phil Salt’s dismissal in the first over gave the bowlers a much needed confidence boost. Khary Pierre took the wicket of Dawid Malan, in spite of spirited attempts to lift the ball over the boundary from the Qalandars’ Captain. Former Indian favourite Zaheer Khan joined the attack, taking the two wickets of Laurie Evans for 11 and Peter Trego for three in one over, whilst only conceding four runs.
Enter Tom Kohler-Cadmore who found a form out at the crease. The young Yorkshire player shot to 27 off 12 deliveries, but lost his wicket to the UAE’s Waheed Ahmed as the Bulls’ unrelenting bowling attack sought more and more opportunities.
With the game on a knife’s edge, fans at a packed Zayed Cricket Stadium felt the electric tension crackle around the pitch, with the Qalandars requiring 18 runs in the final two overs. As the shadows drew over Abu Dhabi, the Delhi Bulls tried to maintain the brutal pace of their bowling attack, with Sultan Ahmed losing his wicket for three. Nevertheless, the Bulls could not withhold the power of the Qalandars, and the men in green won with a glorious six from Garton off the final ball, sealing victory for his team.
Team Qalandars’ Captain Dawid Malan commented on benefits of the T10 format: “The good thing about T20 and T10 cricket is that you have to learn. If you don’t learn, you keep making the same mistakes and you’re going to cost your team games, be that with the bat or with the ball. It’s a great learning curve in this tournament to have to learn on your feet, and to have to be quick to adapt. It’s always about developing yourself as a player.”
Speaking after his team’s disappointing loss and subsequent exit from the tournament, Eoin Morgan said: “On paper we had a really strong team, but we continued to underperform throughout the group stage, especially in matches that we felt we should have won, because we know how unpredictable T10 cricket can be, where you need to play constant aggressive cricket, which isn’t always easy. It’s great to see the crowds in Abu Dhabi coming to see the cricket, and hopefully this format can evolve and improve over the next few years”.
Match Report 2: Maratha Arabians vs Bangla Tigers
The Maratha Arabians’ Yuvraj Singh sent the crowd wild, as his smart catching waved Bangla Tigers’ opener, Rilee Rossouw, back to the dugout from the innings’ second ball. Lasith Malinga was clearly frustrated with the big hitting of Andre Fletcher, as the West Indies’ batsman smashed two consecutive sixes off the Sri Lankan’s bowling, but Malinga struck back, claiming Fletcher’s wicket for 13 after he skied a delivery into the hands of Dasun Shanaka. Colin Ingram departed for 7 on a catch from Dwayne Bravo, and Thisara Perera only mustered four runs, caught attempting a rasping shot that failed to reach the ropes.
The collapse seemed to continue as Tom Moores found his middle stump flattened on his second ball, but the delivery from Kasun Rajitha was deemed as a no-ball, keeping Moores in the game. The English batsman grabbed the opportunity with both hands, taking a four with the subsequent free hit and not looking back. As wickets continue to fall around him, it was left to Moores and Robert Frylinck to push their team to a competitive total, as they continued to frustrate the Maratha Arabians’ bowlers with some intelligent and at times brutal shots.
Frylinck’s ambitious shots proved to be his downfall, as yet another catch was taken off one of Dwayne Bravo’s balls. Moores and England’s Liam Plunkett desperately tried to hit big in the final over, but were limited by tenacious fielding from the opposition, closing their innings at 106/7.
The Bangla Tigers’ bowlers probed the defences of Chris Lynn, looking for an early breakthrough as the Australian opener, the highest scorer of the tournament so far with 288, looked to thrill the stadium with an exhibition of big shots. However, he was not to have the same impact in this game as he was caught uncharacteristically miscuing a shot straight from David Wiese, falling for 23.
Qais Ahmed’s brilliant delivery deceived Chadwick Walton, and brought Indian superstar Yuvraj Singh to the crease, as fans around the stadium bellowed his name.
In the fourth over with his team cruising at 48/3, Adam Lyth cheaply gave his wicket away, chasing a bouncer as he departed for a low score of 14. On a pitch that was increasingly looking like it was favouring the bowlers, Yuvraj and Najibullah Zadran failed to get off to a rapid start. As they began to settle in, a humongous six from the Indian legend signalled the intent for the pair to start playing riskier shots as boundaries began to flow as they quickly chased down the total.
With 8 runs needed from the final two overs, victory was inevitable for the Maratha Arabians, as Yuvraj stylishly completed the run chase with a flick off the pads that sailed for six.
After his side topped the table, Maratha Arabians’ Head Coach Andy Flower said: “It is a fantastic feeling to finish first, and although we know it’s going to be tough for us in the semi-finals, it’s great that we have momentum behind us. It’s a brilliant thing that UAE players are playing a massive role in the tournament for us. For example, Shiraz has been pivotal in our success. It’s very important that UAE players get the experience and exposure of playing in front of such huge crowds alongside world class players.”
Despite his team’s loss Bangla Tigers’ Thisara Perera was upbeat about his team’s chances in the semi-finals saying: “We are glad to be in the semi-finals. Despite the loss today, we have faith in our team’s ability, not only with the bat but with the ball too. The ground in Abu Dhabi is really good for bowling, because it has big boundaries, so if we find the right line and length we will be able to defend whatever competitive total we put up.”
Match Report 3: Team Abu Dhabi vs Karnataka Tuskers
Team Abu Dhabi opted to open by batting in the final game of their tournament against Hashim Amla’s Karnataka Tuskers. With fans cheering on both sides, the batsmen in yellow sought to bring some life to what has been a bowler’s wicket for the whole evening. Nathan Rimmington of the Karnataka Tuskers sought to demonstrate, however, that the wicket was still potent with opportunities for the bowlers, after removing top-order Avishka Fernando for three with a diving catch from Amla. Moeen Ali and Luke Wright held firm against a steady flow of deliveries from the Tuskers, with both men finding rich opportunities for runs between the wicket, along with the occasional boundary rope.
Ali’s dismissal came at the end of the eighth over, after the TV umpire made a close call on his bat being in or out of the crease. The umpire found Ali to be at fault, but his stand of 35 made for a valuable addition to the Team Abu Dhabi scoreboard. Shapoor Zadran and Rimmington sought to restrict the local lads, but they could not restrain Wright from finding a deserving half century, closing his tournament on a total of 208 runs, the second highest scoring player behind Chris Lynn. Team Abu Dhabi posted a target of 129 for Amla’s men to chase.
The Karnataka Tuskers sought to muster a comeback to Team Abu Dhabi’s high total, but the bowling of Marchant de Lange and Harry Gurney constrained the men in blue to dot-balls and runs between the wickets, with Gurney taking the wicket of Johnson Charles in the second over for two. The Abu Dhabi bowlers kept the flow of runs low and the flow of wickets high, with Ben Laughlin catching Upul Tharanga for 10 and Himalayan hero Paras Khadka taking the wicket of Captain Hashim Amla at deep mid-wicket for 18.
Ross Whiteley and Shafiqullah Shafaq were looking for a final Karnataka comeback, but were constrained from the boundary rope, before Marchant de Lange took Whiteley on six whilst the UAE’s Rohan Mustafa got his hands on a ball from Shafiqullah for six. The only Dutch cricketer playing in the Aldar Properties Abu Dhabi T10, Ryan ten Doeschate, brought a six-seeking spirit to the game’s play, but the odds had already beaten the Karnataka boys, with the required run rate having soared over 52 by the final over. Team Abu Dhabi won by 34 runs, but neither team will move forward to the next stage of the tournament.
Speaking after his team’s exit from the tournament Captain Moeen Ali said: “I think the T10 is an amazing format. Although the fundamentals of the game are the same, it’s much harder than what people think because the tempo is really fast. Ultimately, we are really disappointed to exit at this stage, but hopefully we can come back stronger next year. The facilities of the stadium and the hospitality of the wider city makes this place a wonderful area to come and play cricket in.”
Trevor Bayliss, Coach of Team Abu Dhabi commented on the T10 format saying: “You obviously have to go out there and play some shots because of the limited time you have, but I still think there is an opportunity to get settled in and play some tactical cricket. The crowd today in the stadium were incredible, and if you can constantly grab that sort of attention, it bodes well for the format and for players coming to play into T10.”
Hashim Amla, Captain of the Karnataka Tuskers was in a pensive mood reflecting on his team’s performance saying: “I think overall we couldn’t compete long enough across different stages of the game to be competitive and get the required amount of wins to progress. In saying that, it has been a really useful experience for everyone in this team, especially the youngsters as they learn what to expect from the T10 format as it continues to grow”.
The semi-finals will see table toppers Maratha Arabians battle Team Qalandars for a place in the final due to kick off at 15:30, followed by the Bangla Tigers clashing with the Deccan Gladiators at 17:45, and will conclude with the second eliminator between the loser of the first match and the victor of the second.