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David Wiese (centre) of Gulf Giants celebrates with teammates after claiming a five-wicket haul against Sharjah Warriors at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Monday. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Table-toppers Gulf Giants start as favourites in Qualifier 1 of the DP World IL20 at Dubai International Stadium on Wednesday.

After keeping a nearly clean sheet, losing just one match, Giants will be eager to make it three in a row against Desert Vipers in the important clash. However, it is not the end of the world for the losers, who will get another chance against the winners of the Eliminator in the Qualifier 2 on Friday.

So it will give both the teams the freedom to play their game and not bogged down by the pressure. Still both teams will be eager to book their place in the final and not go through some anxious moments on the field.

Big game

Giants have been well-served by some impressive performances. Skipper James Vince leads from the front with 321 runs from eight matches, while all-rounder David Wiese, who is the highest wicket-taker with 15 wickets. The Namibian comes into the big game on the back of a five-wicket haul against Sharjah Warriors in their final league encounter at Sharjah on Monday. The other giants in the team are strike bowlers Chris Jordan, the indomitable hard-hitter Shimron Hetmyer, and two UAE players — Sanchit Sharma and 17-year-old Ayan Khan — who have contributed immensely to their team’s successful run in the tournament.

Speaking about the factors behind his team’s success, Vince said: “We play every game to try and win it. Great to see guys come in and do well. Conditions will be different for the Wednesday game, but we will approach that match in the best way possible.”

Desert Vipers have time and again proved that on their day they can sting their opponents hard. They have Alex Hales, the highest run-getter of the tournament so far with 465, the consistent Sam Billings and bowlers Sheldon Cottrell and Wanindu Hasranga. UAE players Rohan Mustafa and Shiraz Ahmed has been outstanding performers for them too.

Out in full force

The Desert Vipers squad was out in full force at the ICC Academy in Dubai on Tuesday, for a training session to ensure they halt the winning run of their rivals Giants.

While the Desert Vipers have lost their previous encounters against the Gulf Giants, skipper Colin Munro, in a conversation with the Vipers Voices podcast, said he believes his side can beat the Giants on Wednesday. “Every team is beatable in this competition. There are some great squads around, especially our team. I have all the faith in the boys to do the job tomorrow.

“All the pressure is on them. They have beaten us twice. And we come in to the play-off as underdogs. They have lost just one game in the group stage, so they are the team to beat. All the pressure will be on them.”