MI Emirates beat Desert Vipers by 157 runs. Image Credit: @ILT20Official/Twitter

Sharjah: Whirlwind half centuries from Muhammad Waseem, Kieron Pollard and Andre Fletcher helped MI Emirates record a whopping 241 for 3 in 20 overs.

MI Emirates’s left-arm medium pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi, with a deadly three wicket spell, backed by Zahoor Khan and Imran Tahir with two wickets each, then bowled out Desert Vipers for a paltry 84 runs in 12.1 overs for a massive 157 runs win in the 21st match of the DP World ILT20 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Sunday night.

UAE’s Waseem set the tempo for this superlative show from MI Emirates scoring a spectacular 86 runs off 44 balls with 11 boundaries and four sixes. Fletcher, who played second fiddle, scored 50 off 39 balls with four boundaries and two sixes. Together they put on an opening partnership of 141 in 12.3 overs. After this show from the openers, skipper Kieron Pollard hit a 19-ball unbeaten half century studded with four boundaries and four sixes. He added 89 runs in just 5.2 overs along with Dan Mousley, who cracked an unbeaten 31 off 17 balls with three fours and two sixes.

MI Emirates thus not only recorded the highest score of the tournament but also the biggest victory of the tournament. Incidentally, this is also the second highest score in a T20 league at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium after Balkh Legends had piled up 244 for 6 in 20 overs against Kabul Zwanan in the 2018 Afghanistan Premier League.

Earlier, Desert Vipers won the toss and elected to bowl. MI Emirates opener Andre Fletcher began to play his shots right away hitting both the opening bowlers Luke Wood and left-arm spinner Mark Watt for boundaries. Desert Vipers were playing this match without their star bowler Sheldon Cottrell, who has been identified with a niggle. They had also rested their star spinner spinner Wanindu Hasaranga.

In the third over, opener Mohammad Waseem, who was yet to open his account, escaped being caught and bowled by Wood. He celebrated his escape cracking a boundary through extra cover off the last ball of that over. In the fourth over, Waseem hit two consecutive straight sixes off Watt and ended the over with another boundary to take 17 runs off that over. Waseem also hit Matheesha Pathirana for a boundary to short fine leg and another to third man to record the 50 runs partnership in 4.5 overs. Tom Curran, who bowled the final over of the power play, was hit for a six over the bowler’s head by Fletcher. The powerplay yielded 68 runs.

Waseem raced to his 50 in 24 balls. MI Emirates reached the 100 run mark in 9. 1 overs through a six by Waseem to the roof of the stadium at deep square leg off Benny Howell. The ease with which Waseem hit Tom Curran for his fourth six over long-off was a treat to watch. Fletcher reached his half century in 38 balls and got out hitting Pathirana straight to Curran at long-on.

Skipper Kieron Pollard promoted himself and joined Waseem batting on 80 to try and pile up more runs in the remaining seven overs. The score went past the 150 mark in the 15th over but Waseem on 86 fell to Curran caught by Rohan Mustafa at deep extra cover. Next man Najibullah Zadran, trying to swing Curran, edged to wicketkeeper Sam Billing for a duck.

Twenty-one-year old England allrounder Dan Mousley, playing his first match, joined Pollard. He hit Pathirana for back to back sixes and also thrashed him through the covers for a boundary to take 22 runs off the 18th overs. MI Emirates’ 200 came off a towering six from Pollard off Curran that sailed out of the stadium. He pulled Curran again out of the stadium to bring in the 50 partnership with Mousley in 3.4 overs. The third six of that over from Pollard too sailed over long on to the roof of the stadium and 28 runs came off that over.

Pollard reached his half century lifting the last ball of the innings from Pathirana for a six over long off. The pair put on 89 runs in just 5.2 overs for the highest score of the tournament.

Wickets tumble from the start

Desert Vipers’ chase began on a bad note losing opener Rohan Mustafa, clean bowled by Fazalhaq Farooqi to the first ball of the second over for 1. Opener Alex Hales too followed edging Trent Boult to wicketkeeper Lorcan Tucker for 4 to the first ball of the third over. Sam Billings joined his skipper Colin Munro but at the score on 33, Farooqi struck again in the fourth over to force Munro edge to Tucker for 10. Four runs later, UAE’s Zahoor Khan forced Billings to play on to his wicket for 7 in the fifth over. With the fourth ball of the same over, he forced Sherfane Rutheford to hit straight to Najibullah at mid-wicket for 4. With half the side back in the dug-out for 41, MI Emirates braced themselves for a big win.

Farooqi picked his third wicket in the sixth over by having Howell caught by Waseem at third man for 1. Imran Tahir quickened the end of Desert Vipers’ innings by taking two wickets for 18 runs.

Brief scores:

MI Emirates beat Desert Vipers by 157 runs. MI Emirates 241 for 3 in 20 overs (Andre Fletcher 50, Muhammad Waseem 86, Kieron Pollard 50n.o, Dan Mousley 31n.o, Tom Curran 2 for 63) Desert Vipers 84 in 12.1 overs (Fazalhaq Farooqi 3 for 13, Zahoor Khan 2 for 8, Imran Tahir 2 for 18).

Player of Match ($1500): Muhammad Waseem

DP World Smart delivery of the day ($1500): Trent Boult to Alex Hales

Fairplay News biggest hit of the match ($ 1500): Kieron Pollard’s six of 104 mts.

Skytech.Net Super 4s of the match ($1500): Muhammad Waseem (11 boundaries)

Sportsbuzz Buzzmaker of the match ($1500): Muhammad Waseem

Green Belt Holder: Alex Hales

White Belt Holder: Chris Jordan