Colin Munro, Desert Vipers
Colin Munro, Desert Vipers Image Credit: Supplied/ILT20

Dubai: Colin Munro’s patient knock and his impressive captaincy along with Tom Curran’s perfect final over gave Desert Vipers a 12-run win over Dubai Capitals and a place at the top of International League Tweny20 table at Dubai International Stadium on Saturday.

In the first match of the double-header, Rahmanullah Gurbaz shone brightly on a sunny day when he guided Sharjah Warriors to a four-wicket win, despite the men in yellow stuttering late in their chase of an under-par 150 against a capitulating Abu Dhabi Knight Riders, who scored 149 for four in 20 overs. The loss inflicted more misery on ADKR, who are still searching for their first win in the six-team tournament.

Desert Vipers, the only team to have avoided a no-result in the three days when rain played spoilsport, defended a low score on a slow wicket that didn’t allow much room for strokeplay.

After being reduced to 149 for 9 in 20 overs, Vipers struck early to push Capitals to 85 for five in 13.3 overs. But skipper Rovman Powell and veteran Indian batter Yousaf Pathan played some positive shots to take the match closer. Needing 23 from 12 balls, Sri Lankan pacer Matheesha Pathirana and England all-rounder produced two brilliant overs, giving away just 13 runs and sealing the match in their team’s favour.

"I thought they bowled exceptionally well. We were a few runs short, but we bowled outstandingly well to defend it. We probably weren't as proactive against the spinners as we could have been, but with our bowling line-up, anything above 140 is competitive. I thought the way TC came in and bowled three in the end, same with Pathirana, was excellent,” Munro said.

Hazratullah Zazai of Dubai Capitals
Hazratullah Zazai of Dubai Capitals Image Credit: Supplied/ILT20

Australian leg-spinner Adam Zampa made the most of the wearing wicket, where the first match was also held, by claiming a three-wicket haul to break the dangerous partnership developing between Munro and Sam Billings. From a comfortable position, Vipers innings lost their way in the second half of the innings. Curran and Sherfane Rutherford ensured that the Vipers have a fighting total to defend.

"Slightly jetlagged still, but good to be here. I've played in the UAE quite a bit, we've had the World Cup and some of the IPLs here too. We needed to get wickets in the middle to make a game of it. They got off to a flier and had some dangerous guys in the middle, so it was good to make a difference," Zampa told the broadcasters after collecting the Player of the Match award.

The Vipers will be taking this confidence to the next game on Sunday at Sharjah Cricket Stadium against MI Emirates, whom they had already defeated in the first round in Abu Dhabi.

"It's pretty disappointing. Going into the last five, the game was ours, but credit to them, they bowled well in the last five. It's two points we really needed that we missed. We still have three more games, hopefully, we can focus on those. If we had a better start, that would have also helped us," Powell said at the presentation ceremony.

Sharjah Warriors’ opener Gurbaz took up the extra responsibility in the absence of Joe Root to lead the Warriors’ chase of a paltry score for their third win.

“After a few matches where I did not score, it is difficult to come back. I give all the credit to the coaches and the management. Special mention to my coach who gave me the confidence to play my natural game,” said the 21-year-old Afghanistan batter.

Gurbaz and Tom Kohler-Cadmore gave Warriors a blazing start and kept the scores well ahead of the D/L run rate, ensuring a result in their favour should there be a rain. However, that was not to be and as the nimbus cloud cleared, Sharjah’s chances grew brighter, racing to 100 in the 10th over, requiring another 50 in 10 overs with eight wickets in hand.

But the fall of Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis, who is playing his first match in the ILT20 tournament, triggered a mini collapse, losing four wickets for 26 runs. Former Afghanistan skipper Mohammad Nabi used all his experience to guide the Warriors home.

“I think we contained them well. We started well with the ball and never let them get away from us. A great start by Gurbaz and Kohler-Cadmore. They have gotten us to fliers in most games and they probably killed the game off there. The replacements have added some great strength and depth to the squad,” said Sharjah skipper Joe Denly.

It was another game to forget for the fancied Knight Riders, who have not lived up to the expectations despite having a powerful line-up. So far ADKR have been only strong on paper while they have let the advantage slip on the field.

Knight Riders rode on Paul Stirling’s 55 and Andre Russell’s 33 to make 149 for 4 in 20 overs, an under-par score on a pitch that had good bounce and pace. ADKR failed with both bat and ball as they failed to get early wickets to halt the chase, despite getting the same total as the Vipers.

“Today we had a decent total on the board. The key factor was taking early wickets. That did not happen and that was the key area where we could have gone better. On this pitch, it was possible (to defend this score). If we had controlled the powerplay, it would have been a better game to manoeuvre in the middle,” said Sunil Narine, ADKR skipper.