Dubai: Gulf Giants, through an exhibition of superb teamwork and resilience, fought tooth and nail to defend a meagre total of 126 for 9 in 20 overs and pull off a 19-run win over Dubai Capitals in the 24th match of the DP World ILT20 season 2 at the Dubai International Stadium. This was the lowest total defended in the history of this tournament.
UAE’s 18-year-old left-arm spinner Aayan Afzal Khan bagged two wickets at a crucial stage of the match while his skipper James Vince produced two run outs to derail Capitals’ chase towards the easy target. Dasun Shanaka pushed Capitals closer to the target through an unbeaten 24 but last man Haider Ali became the third batter to fall for a run out. Capitals were thus bowled out for 107 in 18.3 overs.
Capitals’ Olly Stone (4 for 14) and Scott Kuggeleijn (3 for 29) ran through Giants’ batting line-up with a lethal combination of accurate pace and judicious use of slower deliveries to restrict Giants to 126 for 9 in 20 overs. The Gulf Giants were reeling at 17 for 4 at one stage but were lifted out of disaster by skipper Vince (32) and Shimron Hetmyer (34) through a 51-runs partnership for the fifth wicket in 42 balls.
Capitals made a mess of the ride towards the target losing both their openers for 30 runs. The first to go was their skipper and opener David Warner for 11 caught by Chris Jordan at mid-off to Jamie Overton, followed by opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz who was caught by Jordan at long on off Blessing Muzarabani for 15. When Jordan clean bowled Sam Billings for 12 and Gerhard Erasmus too clean bowled Max Holden for 7, the target looked unreachable.
All hopes now rested on Ben Dunk and Sikandar Raza. However, they could add only 19 runs between themselves before Dunk got run out to a direct hit from Vince from cover for 13. Aayan Khan clean bowled Raza for 10 to light up their hopes of a victory. Vince also ran out Kuggeleijn when he raced for a single that was not there.
Earlier, Capitals, placed fifth in the points table, won the toss and elected to bowl against third placed Gulf Giants. Opener Jamie Smith got out to the third ball of the second over from Kuggeleijn offering an easy catch to Shanaka at cover for 9. Stone struck twice in the third over. He first removed their consistent batter Chris Lynn for 1, brilliantly caught by Kuggeleijn who ran in from deep square leg and took a diving catch. With the next ball, he clean bowled Jordan Cox with a delivery that nipped back to hit the stumps.
Gerhard Erasmus too became another victim to Kuggeleijn following a sliding diving catch by Richardson at mid-wicket, for 2. Giants were left tottering at 17 for 4 in 3.4 overs.
Hetmyer, with unbeaten knocks of 40 and 53 from his previous two matches, joined his skipper and opener Vince. They steered the score past the 50-run mark in nine overs mainly through big hits from Hetmyer. Sikandar Raza would have gotten Hetmyer out for 23 had the ball not popped out of his hand to a return catch. However, Vince wasn’t equally lucky as his slog sweep took a top edge and landed up being caught and bowled by Haider Ali for 32. This also ended their fighting partnership.
Aayan Khan joined Hetmyer and added another 23 runs before Khan retired out for 10. Stone removed the danger man Hetmyer, caught by Kuggeleijn at long on for 34 in the 16th over for his third wicket. Kuggeleijn too picked his third wicket by getting Chris Jordan caught by Akif Raja at fine leg for 7. Stone then clean bowled Jamie Overton for 1. Dominic Drakes’ unbeaten 24 runs in 12 balls with three sixes and one boundary ensured Giants a total of over 120 runs.
James Vince, the player of the match and skipper of Giants said: “We went in knowing we could win but knew it was tough. Run-outs and catches we needed, and the bowlers did really well. There was a bit of spin, and a tiny bit of swing for the pacers. The two-paced wicket made it hard to commit early on to the shots. We knew we had to take early wickets, and we took 3 in the powerplay.”
Losing captain Warner said: “Our bowling unit did exceptionally well and to restrict them to 126 was a phenomenal effort. They bowled well, but we lost wickets in clumps and that’s been the trend for us throughout this tournament.”
Gulf Giants bt Dubai Capitals by 19 runs. Gulf Giants 126 for 9 in 20 overs (James Vince 32, Shimron Hetmyer 34, Scott Kuggeleijn 3 for 29, Olly Stone 4 for 14) Dubai Capitals 107 in 18.3 overs (Dasun Shanaka 24n.o, Aayan Afzal Khan 2 for 8)
Player of the Match: James Vince