Dubai: An insipid batting performance from Qalandars resulted in their team that looked formidable with five consecutive victories crash to Team Abu Dhabi by six wickets in the first eliminator of the Abu Dhabi T10 at Zayed Cricket Stadium.
Abu Dhabi bowlers led by Naveen Ul Haq (2-6) Obed McCoy (2-11) and Tom Helm (2-22) restricted the strong Qalandars to 83-7. If not for Shahid Afridi’s 24 runs, Qalandar would have landed up posting a smaller total.
Qalandars show was an instance of failing to peak at the right time. Chasing an easy target, Abu Dhabi won through Ben Duckett’s stubborn unbeaten 27 and Joe Clarke’s invaluable 22 runs. They won with eight balls to spare.
Abu Dhabi, electing to bowl first, maintained a tight length from the start. With the first ball of the match, Helm trapped Tom Banton leg before. Skipper Sohail Akhtar began by hitting the second delivery for a boundary. He also hit Rohan Mustafa for another boundary in the second over. In the third over, Naveen Ul Haq forced Akhtar to pull into the hands of Najbullah Zadran for 17. Haq also clean bowled Ben Dunk with the last ball of that over.
More disaster was to follow for Qalandars as Jamie Overton clean bowled Sharjeel Khan for 12. Obed McCoy bowled a tight fifth over giving away just seven runs. At the half way mark, Qalandars were struggling at 37-4.
Shahid Afridi hit Overton through the covers for a boundary and pulled the next for a six over mid-wicket. Samit Patel too hit Overton through the covers for a boundary. Naveen bowled another brilliant seventh over giving away just three runs. Abu Dhabi introduced Mustafa again for the eighth over and Afridi hit him for two consecutive boundaries.
However, Qalandars struggled to accelerate the run flow. McCoy forced Afridi to hit high to Paul Stirling in the covers for 24. He gave away just five runs in that over and also picked the wicket of Patel for 16. Chris Jordan hit Helm, who bowled the tenth over, for a six but fell to the last ball of that over.
The only chance for Qalandars to get back into the game was by removing the aggressive openers Chris Gayle and Paul Stirling quickly. Gayle began by picking a boundary off Sohail Tanvir to backward point. In the second over, Gayle hit the first delivery from Ahmed Daniyal to mid-wicket for a six. Daniyal struck with the fourth ball by forcing Gayle to top edge to wicketkeeper Dunk for 15. Stirling too followed in the third over from Sultan Ahmed, brilliantly caught by Banton at the long-on boundary for 4. Ahmed clean bowled skipper Luke Wright with an arm ball for a duck.
The task of lifting Abu Dhabi now fell on Joe Clarke and Ben Duckett. They picked 14 runs off the fourth over from Samit Patel. Clarke hit Sultan for three consecutive boundaries. To make matters worse for Qalandars, Tanvir dropped Clarke at point in the last ball of the over. By the half way mark Abu Dhabi needed only 30 more runs off the last 30 balls.
Duckett square drove Daniyal for a boundary but Abu Dhabi could get only nine runs off that over. Jordan had Clarke caught by Sharjeel at backward square leg for 22 and gave away just five runs. Duckett picked two boundaries off Mohammad Zahid’s eighth over to take the team close to the target.
Najibullah hit the winning run by lifting Jordan for a six over wide long off.
Team Abu Dhabi beat Qalandars by six wickets.
Qalandars 83-7 in 10 overs: Shahid Afridi 24, Tom Helm 2-22, Naveen Ul Haq 2-6, Obed McCoy 2-11
Team Abu Dhabi 88-4 in 8.4 overs: Ben Duckett 27*, Joe Clarke 22, Sultan Ahmed 2-21