Dubai: Chris Lynn and Carlos Brathwaite stood tall to guide Gulf Giants to history books as the first DP World International League Twenty20 champions, cruising to a seven-wicket triumph over Desert Vipers final at Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.
The Adani Sportsline-owned Giants adopted a similar strategy that took them to victory in Qualifier 2, one of the openers staying till the end. Skipper James Vince did that on Friday against MI Emirates, while Lynn took the over the mantle after the early dismissal of his skipper with a watchful unbeaten 72 to take his team to the under-par target of 147 with eight balls to spare and grab the winners’ cheque of $700,000.
The final was a repeat of Qualifier 1 where Vipers had a bad start before Sam Billings and Wanindu Hasaranga, who scored an aggressive half-century in just 21 balls, rescuing the team with a 72-run partnership for the fifth wicket. But the wickets of Billings and Hasaranga (55) halted their progress and finished at 146 for eight in 20 overs. That was at least 29 runs short of the last game, which they won with ease, and that’s due to the absence of Sherfane Rutherford, who suffered a hamstring injury in their previous encounter.
Guy for big occasions
Brathwaite, who lifts his game in the final as he had done against England by hitting Ben Stokes to 24 runs in the final over to give West Indies the Twenty20 World Cup title, took three wickets with his medium pace to give the Giants’ a low target to chase. The lively spell earned Brathwaite the player of the final award.
“Brathwaite is definitely a guy for the big occasions like this, he has done it in the past. He got on a roll tonight and wanted to really own the night and I think he exactly did just that. He capped it off with his dance. To be a part of history, no one can take it away from Gulf Giants. It has been a pleasure,” says England all-rounder Chris Jordan, who got the Red Belt and the White Belt for the Most Valuable Player and the Best Bowler with 20 wickets.
The Australian opener too showed his big-match capabilities by scoring his first half-century in the inaugural professional franchise league, ensuring Giants don’t succumb to nerves after losing two wickets, Vince and Colin de Grandhomme, in the space of three deliveries. Both wickets coming off some brilliant efforts, first when wicketkeeper Billings dived to his right to pull off a stunning catch off Vince, while Tom Curran bowled a beauty that came in and went through de Grandhomme’s defences.
The lack of runs and the slight dew rendered venomous Vipers leg-spinner Hasaranga missing his sting and the Sri Lankan, in search of wickets, tried to bowl too many googlies, his stock wicket-taking delivery. Hasaranga has dismissed 10 of his 14 wickets in this tournament to wrongones, but today they were duly picked and dispatched to the fence by Lynn.
Giants could continue with their game plan of controlled aggression, Gerhard Erasmus being the aggressor playing the big shots, while Lynn picking the bad deliveries. However, with the required rate just over seven at the start of the innings, the Giants batters need not have to take big risks, while on the other hand the Vipers’ bowlers had to try hard to get wickets and push their rivals on the backfoot. And every time they tried to do something different in search of a wicket, the bowlers played into the hands of the Giants’ batters with the final meandering to a one-sided contest.
The arrival of the hard-hitting West Indian Shimron Hetmyer put Lynn at ease and the pair scored 18 and 16 runs in the 17 and the 18th over to reach home in a hurry after being 74/2 in 10 overs. Preserving the wickets helped on the big stage.
“It’s a fantastic feeling, the atmosphere is very comfortable and my family has been supporting me back home, we really pulled it together well,” says Hetmyer. Brathwaite also gave credit to his fellow West Indian for giving his team the victory. “The most pleasing thing for me tonight was Hetmyer getting through that chase,” he added.
The loss of tournament’s highest scorer Alex Hales, who won the Green Belt with 469 runs, in the second over did not give Vipers the dream start that they would have expected in the final. In fact, Vipers should have had their plan B as historically the big scorers in the league phase invariably fail in the knockout games, something that had happened in Qualifier 1 where the England opener lost his wicket early against the same team last Tuesday.
By not changing their strategy, Vipers went on the same lines and kept losing wickets at regular intervals, which only strengthened Giants’ stranglehold, limiting the Vipers to 62/4 at the halfway stage.
David Wiese’s acrobatic catch, running backwards and leaping to grab the ball with one at mid-off, ended the counter-attacking 72-run partnership for the fifth wicket, Billings dismissed for 31 for the second time in a row. The Namibian all-rounder came into action again as he completed a sitter to end Hasaranga’s stunning run.
Two wickets in two with the addition of no run pushed the Vipers under the sand again, forcing the two newcomers to give the finishing touches to the innings in the final four overs. Not an easy task. Truly enough, 28 runs were scored off 29 balls that undermined their bowlers’ potential to grab the runners-up cheque of $300,000.
UAE opener Muhammad Waseem, who produced a consistent performance at the top for MI Emirates, grabbed the Blue Belt for the UAE player.