Joe Clarke of Abu Dhabi Knight Riders
Joe Clarke of Abu Dhabi Knight Riders Image Credit: Supplied/ILT20

Dubai: Abu Dhabi Knight Rider’s opener Joe Clarke dented Sharjah Warriors’ hopes of getting closer to the play-offs by guiding the hosts to a five-wicket in the DP World ILT20 match at Sheikh Zayed Stadium on Saturday.

Chasing a 131 for win, Clarke’s half-century set the tone for Knight Riders, who coasted to the target for their first win in the inaugural edition. Though the victory has come in the last match of their campaign, it’s nevertheless redeemed their pride and will give them the boost for their next campaign.

Put in to bat first, Sharjah lost opener Dawid Malan early. Rriding on other opener Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Evin Lewis’ partnership, the visitors reached a healthy 71 for two in 9 overs, but lost their way from the halfway stage. The loss of frequent wickets did not help Sharjah’s cause, scoring under 60 in the final 10.

In the opening match of the double-header, Shimron Hetmyer gave the bragging rights to Gulf Giants after overpowering Desert Vipers in the top of the table clash at Dubai International Stadium on Saturday.

Hetmyer, who was Gulf Giants’ hero in their previous match against MI Emirates through his last-ball six, scored a stroke-filled 54 off 35 balls. He was backed by skipper James Vince’s 39 runs to help Gulf Giants post 180 for 6 in 20 overs.

Shimron Hetmyer of Gulf Giants
Shimron Hetmyer of Gulf Giants Image Credit: Supplied/ILT20

Desert Vipers could muster only 155 for 6 against the tight Gulf Giants attack. Tom Curran tried hard to take his team to target through an unbeaten 42 off 33 balls, but his efforts went in vain.

Electing to bowl, Desert Viper rested their three regular players Wanindu Hasaranga, Gus Atkinson and Luke Wood as both the teams have booked their spots in the play-offs. During the powerplay, Gulf Giants scored 55 for one and lost Chris Lynn soon after.

Vince continued to keep the scoreboard moving with some good shots before losing his wicket in the ninth over. At the half way mark, Gulf Giants was 89 for 3 and reached 100 in the 12th over.

Hetmyer found able partners in Gerhard Erasmus and David Wiese to take the score to the 150-mark in 16.4 overs. The West Indian left-hander hit his fourth six, lifting Sheraz Ahmed into the long-on stands, to reach his half century in 30 balls.

On a barren wicket, Alex Hales and Rohan Mustafa began the Desert Vipers’ chase and their 50-run partnership came in just 4.1 overs. But Wiese provided the breakthrough, forcing Mustafa to slash at him and edge to wicketkeeper Tom Banton for 28.

UAE’s 17-year-old left-arm spinner Aayan Afzal Khan was introduced in the seventh over and he picked the valuable wicket of Hales. Carlos Brathwaite dismissed the veteran Vipers’ skipper Colin Munro and Sherfane Rutherford too followed quickly to leave Vipers in deep trouble.

With half the side was back in the dug-out by the 12th over for 88, Benny Howell carried Desert Vipers to the 100-run mark in the 14th over after losing Sam Billings for 22.

Desert Vipers needed 59 in the last five overs and Dominic Drakes removed Howell with the first ball of the 16th over. With an uphill task in front of him, Curran, through an unbeaten 42, tried hard to pull his team to the target but could not manage it.

Meanwhile, former Indian wicketkeeper Naman Ojha comes in as a replacement for Dinesh Chandimal, who has been called up for domestic duty by the Sri Lankan Cricket Board. The 39-year-old Ojha is expected to join the squad on Sunday, ahead of the Vipers’ first play-off game in Dubai on Wednesday.

Ojha said: “I am really excited about being part of the Desert Vipers team in the DP World ILT20. After retiring in 2021, I have been looking for wicketkeeping and batting opportunities in franchise teams. So, this is a terrific opportunity for me.”