Rovman Powell
Dubai Capitals skipper Rovman Powell played a match-winning innings against Abu Dhabi Knight Riders in the ILT20 opener in Dubai on Friday. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: West Indian Rovman Powell exhibited his shrewd cricketing skills, both as a batter and a skipper, to give Dubai Capitals a 73-run win over Abu Dhabi Knight Riders in the opening match of the inaugural International League Twenty20, which got off to a spectacular start at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday.

The glitz and the fireworks that got off the tournament were missed in the opening match, which ended as a one-sided affair after Knight Riders let the advantage slip to allow Capitals to score a huge total.

Knight Riders lost the momentum in the final three overs when they were bowling and never got off from the depths during the chase. Opener Paul Stirling’s half-century was the lone bright spot for the ADKR innings. Batting on first on a double-paced wicket, after being put into bat, must have proved a blessing for Dubai, whose batters must have given them the right insight to bowl on the right areas.

Let the games begin

Earlier, Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence and Chairman, Emirates Cricket Board, during the inauguration of the ILT20, said: “UAE, one of the world’s most innovative countries, is pleased to inaugurate its very own T20 league. The first of the 34 matches will signal the start of a month-long cricket festival, bringing together six strong teams, who will strive for excellence for the ILT20 trophy.

Sheikh Nahayan called on the teams to honour the spirit of UAE, a country that views sports as an important human endeavour that greatly enriches our lives. “The players from the six franchise teams will demonstrate teamwork, humility, perseverance and good sportsmanship and will make us all proud. Let the games begin,” Sheikh Nahayan said in his inaugural address.

Useful information

Capitals didn’t get the desired start, but opener Robin Uthappa and skipper Powell carefully treaded through the middle overs to give their team the foundation, holding the wickets for the final push. After the Dubai team notched up 187 for six in 20 overs, Isuru Udana, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Sikandar Raza stifled their rivals, who surrendered meekly after losing regular wickets.

"I think we went pretty well. The information the guys sent back while batting was very useful. We were trying to get to 150 because we thought that was a good total, but luckily we were able to get to 180. We know that spinners would be useful and they have two quality spinners in Sunil Narine and Akeal Hosein so we were just trying to save wickets for the back end and we did well,” Powell, the player of the match, told the broadcasters during the prize presentation ceremony.

Star UAE bowlers

The two UAE bowlers, Hazrat Luqman and Akif Raja also got into the party with impressive bowling, capping a memorable day in the league that is conceived to also benefit the home players.

“I thought they were excellent. We knew they would have to bowl four overs each and they showed there's a lot of talent in the UAE,” added the Jamaican.

Former England Test skipper Joe Root, who is looking to improve his white-ball game, being the aggressor, while Robin Uthappa took time to get into the groove. However, when he looked set to give the innings the right impetus, the Indian opener got out in the 12th over to again pull the run rate down, but skipper Powell was comfortable on the wicket right from the start on a wicket that’s not easy to play the shot immediately.

Paul Stirling
Opener Paul Stirling's half-century was the lone bright spot in Knight Riders' innings. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Wayward bowling

The Jamaican skipper, who picked the right balls to hit, was out caught at deep-midwicket when he was within two runs off the first half-century of the tournament. His 48 off 29 balls kept the Captials’ scoreboard ticking. Powell put on a 51-run partnership with Zimbabwe all-rounder Sikandar Raz in 28 balls. However, Powell’s wicket coming in at the wrong time was not capitalized by the ADKR, as wayward bowling let the Capitals off the hook.

Capitals made the most of the freebies in the form of short-pitched deliveries and full tosses to score 48 runs off the last three overs, which took them past the 180-run mark, which at one stage looked impossible.

All is not lost as it is only the first match and Knight Riders will soon get their act together in the coming matches as each team play a total of 10 matches.

ADKR skipper Sunil Narine said: "I think we started well and the first 10 overs were not that bad, but we bowled some loose deliveries. It was just the first game so, hopefully, we learn from it. The pitch was helpful, especially for the seamers. It swung and seamed, so I think early wickets will be key in the tournament."

Shah Rukh Khan
Abu Dhabi Knight Riders co-owner and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan arriving for the opening ceremony. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Bollywood superstar and co-owner of the Abu Dhabi Knight Riders, Shah Rukh Khan and a host of dignitaries from the Emirates Cricket Board and DP World were present during the opening ceremony that preceded the contest.

American singer Jason Derulo, Indian rapper Badshah also kept the fans entertained while veteran West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo showed his different footwork with the Champion show.

Indian rapper Badshah performing during the opening ceremony. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
Brief scores:
Dubai Capitals beat Abu Dhabi Knight Riders by 73 runs. Dubai Capitals 187 for six (Robin Uthappa 43, Joe Root 26, Rovman Powell 48, Sikandar Raza 26, Ravi Rampaul 2/36, Ali Khan 2/45) AD Knight Riders (Paul Stirling 54, Rovman Powell 2/15, Mujeeb Ur Rehman 2/16, Sikandar Raza 2/20).