England’s Michael Pepper raced to his half century in 33 balls peppered with five boundaries and three sixes. Image Credit: Courtesy: ILT20

Abu Dhabi: England’s Michael Pepper scored a well-crafted 40-ball 59 to steer Abu Dhabi Knight Riders past defending champions Gulf Giants by six wickets in the 16th match of the DP World ILT20 season 2 at the Zayed Cricket Stadium. The win lifted Knight Riders to the third spot while Giants slipped to fourth.

Batting first, Gulf Giants were restricted to 161 for 6 despite Chris Lynn’s 67 off 48 balls that included six boundaries and three sixes.

He had put on a 58-ball 72-run partnership for the third wicket with Jordan Cox who hit 21 off 27 balls with one boundary and a six. Lynn also added a 39-run stand for the fourth wicket with Usman Khan (23).

Chasing the target, Knight Riders needed a good start. Openers Joe Clarke and Pepper provided just that scoring their 50-run partnership in just 4.1 overs. Mujeeb Ur Rehman stuck in his second over to remove Joe Clarke caught down the leg side by wicketkeeper Jamie Smith for 14 to end the 62-run partnership in 6.1 overs.

Quickfire innings

Pepper raced to his half century in 33 balls peppered with five boundaries and three sixes. By the 10th over Knight Riders were at a commanding 100 for 1 needing another 62 runs to win. Six runs later, Mujeeb picked his second wicket to remove Alishan Sharafu caught by Brathawaite at mid-wicket for 11. Richard Glesson forced Pepper, who went for a pull, to edge the delivery on to his wicket for 59.

Laurie Evans got out to Zuhaib Zubair when Drakes took a diving catch at long-off for 6. Andre Russell hit a quick unbeaten 30 off just 13 balls with three sixes, and along with Sam Hain (17 n.o), they ensured their team’s victory with 10 balls to spare. Giants’ bowlers wavered in length giving away a whopping 27 extras.

Winning captain Sunil Narine said: “We ticked a lot of boxes. Started with picking up wickets in the powerplay, it sets the tone. We’re getting a bit of momentum, still a bit too close for comfort, we need to win by bigger margins. But a win is a win and we’ll take it.”

Player of the Pepper said that not losing wickets in the powerplay helped his team. “It’s important to always have to take the aggressive option while batting in the powerplay. It’s the best time to bat, pace on the ball and you have to just go for it. Not losing wickets in the powerplay is crucial.”

Gulf Giants captain Vince said: “I thought we actually had a par score. But obviously the start wasn’t ideal, with them being 60 for none inside the powerplay. It put us behind the game, and even though we pulled it back a bit at the end it was always going to be difficult. They bowled pretty well at the end.”

Brief scores: Abu Dhabi Knight Riders bt Gulf Giants by 6 wkts. Gulf Giants 161 for 6 in 20 overs (Chris Lynn 67, Jordan Cox 21, Usman Khan 23, Andre Russell 2 for 39, Imad Wasim 2 for 31) Abu Dhabi Knight Riders 164 for 4 in 20 overs (Michael Pepper 59, Andre Russell 30n.o, Mujeeb Ur Rahman 2 for 31). Player of the Match: Michael Pepper