Sharjah: Kerala Kings won the hearts of their countless expat fans through a spectacular display to conquer the T10 Cricket League at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Sunday night.
England skipper Eoin Morgan carried the team into the final through a belligerent 53 in the semi-final against Maratha Arabians and followed it up with a whirlwind 63 (off 21 balls, six sixers and five boundaries) to blow out Punjabi Legends in the final and receive a standing ovation from a sellout crowd of 15,213 people.
Punjabi Legends had posted Punjabi Legends 120 for two in 10 overs through Luke Ronchi’s 34-ball 70 runs made up of five sixes and as many fours and Shoaib Malek’s 26 runs with two sixes and a boundary.
It was Ronchi’s unbeaten 60 against Pakhtoons off 34 balls with seven boundaries and three sixes that earned Punjabi a slot in the final.
The atmosphere for the final was electrifying with Kerala fans turning up in large numbers, backing their team through non-stop drum beats. Morgan after lifting the Cup waved it to the supporters in the stands.
When Gulf News asked about vibrant atmosphere and the vociferous Kerala fans, Morgan said: “I realised that there is a huge expat population of Keralites in the UAE. So we had great support and I feel they were the loudest of all the fans here and it was great to see them.”
Misbah Ul Haq, who captained Punjabi Legends, said: “Kerala played better cricket and they deserved to win. After we came back into the tournament to reach the final, we thought we could pull it off. Still I am proud of the boys and whatever we have achieved from this tournament is special as this was the first T10 tournament and the first time we played as a group.”
Misbah feels that T10 is the way forward to attract new people into the game.
“It going to attract more people into the game as it’s very exciting. Right now it’s a bit difficult for the bowler with four powerplay overs. Next tournament onwards they should reduce it to two overs of powerplay but this format is definitely going to be a hit.”
Kerala Kings coach Robin Singh attributed the victory to right team selection.
“I think the key was we picked a good side. We had a good bowling attack for the occasion. Most guys played to the potential. Punjabi Legends’ total was a was a par score. There were plenty of Keralites and we were happy to play for a win,” he said.
Kerala team co-owner Shafi-Ul Mulk said that Kerala’s victory is dedicated to all south Indians. “It is a gift to the Keralites all across the world. Everybody has been calling to congratulate. It is a huge victory for not only Keralities but all south Indians.”
Final: Kerala Kings bt Punjabi Legends by 8 wkts. Punjabi Legends 120 for 2 in 10 overs (Luke Ronchi 70, Shoaib Malek 26) vs Kerala Kings 121 for 2 in 8 overs (Paul Stirling 52, Eoin Morgan 63).