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Defending champions Gulf Giants got off to winning start through their spectacular batting display and tight bowling to record an impressive 31-runs win over Sharjah Warriors in the opening match of the DP World ILT20 season 2 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Gulf Giants posted 198 for 7 in 20 overs building on the strength of a fine opening partnership of 61 runs in 5.2 overs between skipper James Vince and Jamie Smith. Vince top scored with 45 runs off 35 balls with three boundaries and two sixes while Smith cracked a breezy 42 off 18 balls with three boundaries and four sixes.
Off spinner Maheesh Theekshana, who bowled brilliantly provided the breakthrough. He returned with figures of 4 for 15 producing carrom ball deliveries and accurate off cutters. Usman Khan hit a quick 32 runs off 18 balls with four boundaries and a six while Jordan Cox chipped in with 32 off 22 balls with two boundaries and two sixes. At one stage it looked like Giants could post over 225 runs but for Theekshan’s tight bowling and Chris Woakes’s two wickets for 35 runs.
Sharjah Warriors began their chase confidently through an opening partnership of 93 in 10.3 overs between Martin Guptill and Johnson Charles but in end could muster only 167 for 7 in 20 overs. Jamie Overton struck to remove Guptill for 40 and also Charles for 57. After this partnership was broken Giants went for the kill with Chris Jordan striking twice in the 17th over. Guptill’s 40 came off 30 balls with six boundaries and a six. Charles’s 57 off 38 balls had six boundaries and three sixes.
Smith, who enthralled the crowd with some big hits, said: “It was nice to open the tournament and get runs with the bat. Though the ball kept a bit low we did really well to post such a score through some cameos from our batters. In T20 you want to go out, enjoy and try to entertain.”
Giants lived up to their reputation of being the champions despite losing the toss and put into bat on a freshly laid untested Sharjah wicket. Vince, expressing his delight over his team’s winning start, said: “I think it was a pretty all-rounded performance, a lot of contributions. We can take a lot of confidence going forward. At the halfway stage, I think we were 20 runs ahead. We bowled well. Tough ground to catch with low lights. One player to go one and score 70-80, that is what we strive for but the whole line-up played well.
Warriors skipper Tom Kohler-Cadmore felt that his team felt short by 20 runs. “I think we were twenty short with both bat and ball. Back to training and we have to make sure that the next time we come here we are ready to go. They smashed the middle of the pitch and made us take it square of the wicket which we found difficult. When a team scores 200, you need to chase really well. There are little areas to improve on.”
James Overton, who provided the vital breakthrough for Giants and bagged the player of the match award, said: “I had a good run at the Big Bash, nice to come back and join the Gulf Giants again. We tried to hit the wicket, hit the top of off stump as much as we can, just tried to make it hard for the batters as much as we can. Trying to picking the brain of CJ (Chris Jordan), and try to keep on doing what we are doing.”
Giants’ brilliant batting show:
The tournament opener began with Warriors skipper Tom Kohler-Cadmore winning the toss. Opening the innings with Jamie Smith, Vince went on to hit the first boundary of the tournament off Chris Woakes’ second delivery of the first over past mid-off.
Scotland’s Chris Sole, who bowled the second over was lifted by Smith over mid-on for a boundary off the third ball. The fourth delivery was pulled out of the stadium for a mighty six and the fifth was cracked past point for another boundary. Smith also hit the last ball of the over through mid-wicket for another six and take 21 runs off that over.
Woakes checked the run flow in the third over giving only four runs and so did off spinner Maheesh Theekshana yielding only six runs but the 50 runs partnership came in 4.5 overs.
Smith was severe on Daniel Sams too hitting him for two consecutive sixes to take 19 runs off the fifth over. The 61-runs partnership ended in the sixth over when Theekshana clean bowled Smith for 42.
Runs flowed with Vince lifting Qais for another six over long-off. Theekshana struck again in the 12th over to have Vince slash at him and getting caught at slips by Gregory for 45. His knock off 35 balls had three boundaries and two sixes. He also had Shimron Hetmyer leg before with the next ball.
Usman Khan who joined Cox hit his first delivery for a six off Qais Ahmad to long-on. Cox smashed Woakes for a boundary and six off second and third ball of the 14th over but fell to the fourth ball attempting a reverse sweep and got caught behind by wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella for 32. Giants reached 150-run mark came in 14.5 overs.
Usman Khan further accelerated the run flow cracking three consecutive boundaries off Sams in the 16th over. Theekshana picked his fourth wicket removing Usman Khan caught by Woakes at long-off for 32. His knock off 18 balls had four boundaries and a six. Jamie Overton fell to Sams for 5 and Karim Janat too followed, falling to Woakes for 17 but Giants posted 198 for 7 in the 20 overs.
Brilliant start to the chase:
Warriors began their chase through Johnson Charles and Martin Guptill providing an excellent start. Though off the first over Guptill scored only a boundary off Richard Gleeson, in the subsequent overs runs flowed. Charles hit Geelson for a boundary and six in the third over while Guptill picked two consecutive boundaries off Mujeeb Ur Rehman. Guptill on 18 got dropped by Jordan at long-on off Dominic Drakes. Their 50-runs partnership came in 5.4 overs.
The pair went on to put 93 runs in 10.3 overs before Guptill steered Jamie Overton into the hands of Gleeson at third man boundary. Charles reached his half century in 34 balls with six boundaries and two sixes. The score went past the 100 run mark in 12.1 overs through a six from Charles over long-0n. Charles fell at his score on 57 to a slower delivery from Overton, caught by Usman Khan at deep mid-wicket.
Drakes picked the valuable wicket of skipper Tom Kohler-Cadmore in the 15th over for 19 through a running catch by Vince. In the last five overs, Warriors needed 70 runs. Overton struck again by clean bowling Daniel Sams with a yorker for 4. This titled the match in Giants favour.
Niroshan Dickwella joined Lewis Gregory but Chris Jordan clean bowled Gregory for 3 and Dickwella for 4 to put his team on the road to victory.
Gulf Giants beat Sharjah Warriors by 31 runs. Gulf Giants 198 for 7 in 20 overs (James Vince 45, Jamie Smith 42, Jordan Cox 32, Usman Khan 32, Maheesh Theekshana 4 for 15, Chris Woakes 2 for 35) Sharjah Warriors 167 for 7 in 20 overs (Johnson Charles 57, Martin Guptill 40, Chris Woakes 22*, Jamie Overton 3 for 29, Chris Jordan 2 for 35). Player of the Match: Jamie Overton.