Dubai: Gulf Giants showcased grit and determination to pull off a narrow five-run win over MI Emirates in the 26th match of the DP World ILT20 season 2 at the Dubai International Stadium. The architects of Giants’ win were their skipper James Vince who showed the way through his 59 runs off 41 balls with seven boundaries and a six, and wicketkeeper Jamie Smith’s quick unbeaten 43 off 26 balls with four boundaries and two sixes. Together they helped Giants post a fighting total of 158 for 7. They then restricted MI Emirates to 153 for 7 in 20 overs.
Emirates’ skipper Kieron Pollard lit up hopes of a victory through his fighting knock of 40 off 31 balls with three boundaries and a six after opener Kusal Perera had hit 34 runs off 25 balls with five boundaries. Chris Jordan and Jamie Overton bowled the death overs to perfection and ensured their team’s win, which helped Giants move to the second slot in the points table. Unfortunately, Emirates’ left-arm spinner from Afghanistan, Waqar Salamkheil’s spell of 3 for 19 went in vain.
Chasing the target, their aggressive opening pair of Kusal Perera and Muhammad Waseem scored only 22 runs in 3.1 overs when Waseem got out to a running catch by Jordan Cox near the deep mid-wicket boundary off Gerhard Erasmus for 7. Andre Fletcher slashed at Chris Jordan to be caught by Shimron Hetmyer at backward point for 11. Ambati Rayudu quickly departed lifting Aayan Khan into the hands of Chris Jordan at long-on for 1.
At the half way mark, Perera who kept the scoreboard moving, fell, lifting Blessing Muzarabani to Vince at wide mid-off for 34. This was followed by a brilliant direct hit by Jamie Overton to run out Dan Mousely for 11. With half the side back in the dug-out, and 87 runs needed off 56 balls, Dominic Drakes and Aayan Khan bowled two tight overs giving away just four and five runs respectively.
The match was interestingly poised at 60 runs needed off 30 balls. Pollard unleashed his big hits while Odean Smith played second fiddle. Almost all spectators now moved towards the edge of their seats with 38 runs needed off 18 balls. Overton struck to remove Odean Smith on 12 caught brilliantly by Cox at deep mid-wicket for 12. Then Jordan forced Pollard to scoop a catch to Muzarabani to squash Emirates’ hopes of a victory.
Earlier, Emirates, who have qualified for the playoffs, won the toss and elected to bowl against third-placed Giants. Kieron Pollard captained Emirates in place of Nicholas Pooran, who had to join his team in the West Indies for their series against Australia. Opener and skipper Vince went for his shots right away and hit Muhammad Rohid for a six and two boundaries in the second over. He scored all 21 runs from the first two overs. Opener Jordan Cox got off the mark only in the third over, but Vince hit Trent Boult for three consecutive boundaries in the third over.
Sri Lankan leg-spinner Vijayakanth Viyaskanth, playing his first match, broke the 44-run opening partnership by trapping Cox leg before for 2 while attempting a reverse sweep. At the score of 68, Salamkheil took the valuable wicket of Chris Lynn, who went for a wild swing and got bowled for 16. Vince reached his half-century in 32 balls, but Giants’ consistent run-getter Shimron Hetmyer got clean bowled for 2 to a googly from Salamkheil that went through and hit the stumps.
Odean Smith, who was introduced in the 12th over, forced Gerhard Erasmus to edge to wicketkeeper Andre Fletcher for 7. Vince played Dan Mousley down the leg side into the gloves of Fletcher for 59. After half the side was back in the dugout for 89, Salamkheil picked his third wicket, having Jamie Overton out for 5, but Jamie Smith’s unbeaten 43 had swelled the total past the 150-run mark.
James Vince, skipper of the Giants, hailed his players and said: “Jamie Smith played a very good innings to get to a score which we felt we were in it. The bowlers bowled well, and CJ with those yorkers was exceptional. Three games ago we were under a bit of pressure to make the top four, but if we win on Saturday, we can finish in the top two.”
Skipper Pollard talked about the positives from their loss: “At the end , it was just one hit away with a couple of hits at the back end. Chris Jordan especially bowled well. Waqar (Salamkheil) has been fantastic again. The positives are that our guys getting a hit and it’s good for us going forward. “
Player of the Match , Chris Jordan said he will be focusing on Saturday’s match and stated: “It was a good win for the boys. In that crunch moment at the death, execute and win or don’t and lose. They have amazing players and we got over the line tonight. I have been working on a couple of things with the bowling coach to operate at the top end of my speed. It’s working. We have to finish it on Saturday.”
Gulf Giants bt MI Emirates by five runs. Gulf Giants 158 for 7 in 20 overs (James Vince 59, Jamie Smith 43n.o, Waqar Salamkheil 3 for 19) MI Emirates 153 for 7 in 20 overs (Kusal Perera 34, Kieron Pollard 40, Jordan Thompson 26 n.o, Chris Jordan 2 for 21)
Player of the Match: Chris Jordan