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Sikandar Raza of Dubai Capitals celebrates after guiding his team to victory over Desert Vipers in the DP World ILT20 league in Dubai on Friday. Image Credit: CREIMAS/ILT20

Dubai: A last-ball six by Sikandar Raza and his fighting unbeaten 60 lifted Dubai Capitals to a nail-biting five-wicket win over Dubai Capitals in the 27th match of the DP World ILT20 season 2 at the Dubai International Stadium. Raza orchestrated his team’s victory through a 79-run partnership off 54 balls for the fourth wicket with Sam Billings, who cracked 57 off 36 balls, and followed it up with a 40-run partnership with Dasun Shanaka (10) for the fifth wicket.

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With 13 runs needed off the last over, UAE 19-year-old medium pacer Ali Naseer bowled a brave over, but when six runs were needed off the last ball Raza hit him over long on.

Vipers had posted a challenging 171 for 7 through Alex Hales 66. The England opener put on a 66-run partnership with fellow opener Phil Salt (26). Other than Michael Jones’s cameo of 20, the rest of the Vipers’ batters struggled for runs.

'Faith keeps me going'

Raza, who in the last one year has bagged 11 man of the match awards in T20s, the most by any player in the world, described his thought process before hitting the last-ball six. “I said to myself, I don’t think he will go short as I had hit one earlier out of the ground. I will hold my shape and try and hit it in the air and hit it as well as I can,” the Zimbabwean all-rounder said. “Ali Naseer bowled really well; these are things we have learnt all through our careers. For a 19-year-old to bowl the final over is fantastic, and he nearly won it for them. It could’ve gone either way; but sorry we needed that win tonight. The first thing that comes is the faith that keeps me going.”

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Sikandar Raza's unbeaten 60 took Dubai Capitals to a thrilling last-ball win. Image Credit: CREIMAS/ILT20

By the half way mark, Capitals needed 111 more runs. Billings raced to his 50 and Raza provided him with excellent support. In the 15th over, Matheesha Pathirana trapped Billings leg before with a yorker to end the partnership that was swelling to dangerous proportion. Shanaka and Raza pushed the target closer but Sam Curran ended the partnership by clean bowling the Sri Lankan for 10.

Earlier, bottom-placed Capitals won the toss and elected to bowl first against fifth-placed Vipers. Openers Philip Salt and Alex Hales gave a positive start to the innings by going for their shots. Hales hit Richard Ngarava for three sixes and two boundaries in the second over to take 26 runs off that over. Their 50 runs partnership came in 3.1 overs with Hales scoring 40 of those runs. In the fifth over, Roelof van der Merwe broke the 66 runs partnership by getting Salt reverse sweep him to Ngarava at short third man for 26.

Spinners do the trick

Billings hailed Raza’s knock, saying: “Raza has shown his true character and skill. I told him that one shot can get him back. We just had to hang in there and the spinners did a fantastic job and changed the game. We needed to win tonight and we can deal with tomorrow. Very proud of the efforts.”

A disappointed Vipers’ skipper, Colin Munro, said: “They bowled exceptionally well, but we lost wickets in clumps, which never helps. The top two played well but, unfortunately, we did not kick on. Credit to Ali Naseer, he bowled really well, he will be in those situations a lot of times in the future. Good for us for next year as well.”

The loss dealt a major blow to Vipers’ chances of advancing to the playoffs final stages of the Season 2 after being at the bottom of the table with six points, but Hales feels his team still has faint hopes of reaching the next stage.

The Vipers will now keep a close watch on the MI Emirates and Dubai Capitals encounter on Saturday in Abu Dhabi. If MI Emirates win, then the Vipers still have an outside chance of advancing, if they can then beat Sharjah Warriors on Sunday.

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Sam Billings celebrates his half-century during match 27 of Season 2 against Desert Vipers. Image Credit: CREIMAS/ILT20

“We have not got enough big moments in the games right throughout the tournament. It just has not happened this year. We have not been at our best, but there is still a chance if MI Emirates can do us a little favour (and beat Dubai Capitals) and if we can beat Sharjah (on Sunday), then we can go on and win the trophy. We just have to remain positive and keep the mood up.”

Change in play-off schedule

Meanwhile, the play-offs schedule for DP World ILT20 Season 2 has been updated. The Qualifier 1 will now be played on Wednesday, February 14 at the Dubai International Stadium. This match was originally to be played on Tuesday.

The Eliminator will now be played on Tuesday and the match will be hosted at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Cricket Stadium. This match was originally scheduled to be played on Wednesday. The schedule for Qualifier 2 and final fixtures remains the same.

Brief scores:

Dubai Capitals bt Desert Vipers by 5 wkts. Desert Vipers 171 for 7 in 20 overs (Phil Salt 26, Alex Hales 66, Michael Jones 20, Olly Stone 2 for 31, Roelof van der Merwe 2 for 19) Dubai Capitals 172 for 5 in 20 overs (Sam Billings 57, Sikandar Raza 60 not out, Sam Curran 2 for 39). Player of the Match: Sikandar Raza.