Gulf Giants hold their nerves to register a thrilling three-wicket win against Dubai Capitals

Riding on Carlos Brathwaite’s 3 for 26 to restrict the Dubai Capitals to a modest 132/7 in 20 overs, defending champions Gulf Giants registered a 3-wicket win in the 11th match of the ILT20 Season 2 here at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, on Saturday night.

Riding on Carlos Brathwaite’s 3 for 26 to restrict the Dubai Capitals to a modest 132/7 in 20 overs, defending champions Gulf Giants registered a 3-wicket win in the 11th match of the ILT20 Season 2 here at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, on Saturday night.

Buoyed by a boisterous weekend audience, Dominic Drakes brought on the winning runs with a stylish boundary and eight balls to spare.

Gulf Giants braved the onslaught of left-arm spinner Roelof Van Der Merwe who caused havoc to their run-chase bagging crucial wickets of James Vince (28), Carlos Brathwaite (1) and Chris Jordan (0). His effort of 3 for 27 went in vain with the defending champions holding their nerves to earn the winning points. Sikandar Raza who scored a swashbuckling 47 off 36 balls to anchor the Dubai Capitals innings after losing early wickets proved his mettle with the ball too, picking up two wickets for mere eight runs but it was simply not enough.

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“The wicket was doing all sorts of things. Especially with seamers, the ball was swinging a lot, and it was difficult to bat on. We thought if we could drag the innings and take the total to 140-150, we would be good. But the chase won’t be easy,” Raza had stated after the first innings.

The chase sure wasn’t easy, with Jason Holder getting opening batsman Jamie Smith (1) in the first over. But Chris Lynn led the charge, thereafter, scoring 37 runs off 22 balls, studded with three boundaries and three sixes. He was ably supported by captain James Vince who etched his name in history for getting past 10,000 runs in T20s. Vince scored 28 off 19 balls with two boundaries and two over it.

The duo struck 57 off 36 balls, scoring well above the asking run rate of 6.6 per over. Though Giants lost Lynn and Vince to Raja and Van Der Merwe in the 6th and 7th over respectively, there was enough fireworks with Jordan Cox steering their innings. He scored an unbeaten 38 off 30 balls. However, the going got tough when Merwe bagged Brathwaite and Chris Jordan in back-to-back deliveries in the 14th over while Raza had gotten rid of Usman Khan and Shimron Hetmyer. But Drakes and Cox held on to romp home a win.

Raza’s knock in vain

Coming into the game after two back-to-back losses, and put in to bowl first, Gulf Giants pacers put up an inspired performance to unleash a lethal spell sending three of the Dubai Capitals’ batters back to the dugout within the first five overs. Rahmanullah Gurbaz (1) was the first to go, thanks to a brilliant piece of fielding by new comer Zuhaib Zubair. Ben Dunk was next to follow when he was caught on a duck by Shimron Hetmyer off Richard Gleeson’s bowling at the deep fine leg.

Sam Billings, Dubai Capitals Player of the Match from their previous outing against Abu Dhabi Knight Riders who set up their victory with 67 off 35 balls, couldn’t muster similar heroics today as he was packed off for 10 runs. He was getting into a rhythm, hitting Dominic Drakes to a boundary in the third over. But he mistimed a ball, by Carlos Brathwaite pitched on the wider lines, to get caught at the deep mid-wicket by Jordan Cox in the fourth over. This was Brathwaite’s first wicket. He returned in the 7th over to get rid of danger-man David Warner who had 21 runs added to the scoreboard with a boundary to his name.

At 40/4, Dubai Capitals really needed a solid partnership and Sikandar Raza brought some much-needed respite. Along with UAE’s Rahul Chopra, the duo added 27 runs off 25 balls for the 5th wicket. However, Chopra lost his scalp to debutant Zuhaib Zubair. After hitting the new comer for a boundary in his first delivery of the tournament, Chopra fell to a stupendous diving effort by Drakes. He had scored 20 runs off 20.

Before reaching the 100-run mark, DC lost Rovman Powell (10) to Brathwaite who came up with a fine delivery, pitching on the stump line. The score-line was 92/6 at this point with five overs to go.

Meanwhile, Raza continued to hold sway, with Holder at the other end, increasing his intensity with the bat. He hit both Drakes and Brathwaite for superb sixes, including the first one of the match coming in the 17th over. Jason Holder gave Raza the backing he needed to build on his innings. Both added 30 runs of 23 balls for the sixth wicket. Raza lost his wicket to Brathwaite in the 18th over with 47 runs to his name from 36 balls studded with three boundaries and two sixes.

Elated with the win, Gulf Giants’ captain James Vince said: “I thought it was a really good performance with the ball. We started off really well, a crucial run out early in the match set the tone. We were brave today and it was important to get off to a decent start in the chase. I think if Chris (Lynn) and I could stay on for 70-8o runs then we could have chased with five overs to spare.”

Earning the Player of the Match for his effort, Carlos Brathwaite said: “I just wanted to hit the stumps more often. There was a bit of pressure to bowl after Gleeson and Drakes, but I am happy to have delivered in an important match.”

Brief scores: Gulf Giants bt Dubai Capitals by 3 wickets. Dubai Capitals 132/7 in 20 overs. (Sikandar Raza 47, David Warner 21, Rahul Chopra 20; Carlos Brathwaite 3 for 26). Gulf Giants 133/7 in 18.4 overs (Chris Lynn 37, James Vince 28, J Cox 38; Van Der Merwe 3 for 27, Sikandar Raza 2 for 8)

(IANS)