A fantastic half-century innings (86 off 44) by Muhammad Waseem led MI Emirates to a massive 157 run-win over Desert Vipers in the ingoing ILT20 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, here on Sunday night.
Apart from Waseem, Kieron Pollard and Andre Fletcher also scored fifties as MI Emirates posted a whopping 241 for 3 in 20 overs. It was not only the highest score of the tournament but incidentally 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.
Thereafter, MI Emirates’ left-arm medium-pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi, with a deadly three-wicket spell, backed by Zahoor Khan and Imran Tahir’s two wickets each, bowled out Desert Vipers for 84 runs in 12.1 overs for a massive 157 runs win in the 21st match of the DP World ILT20. In terms of run margin, it was the biggest victory of the tournament.
The UAE’s Waseem set the tempo for the superlative show from MI Emirates during his spectacular knock which was filled 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.
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 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 by 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.
The 21-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 over.
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 up the 50-run partnership with Mousley in 3.4 overs. The third six of that over from Pollard too sailed over long onto 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.
MI Emirates 241 for 3 in 20 overs (Muhammad Waseem 86, Kieron Pollard 50 not out, Andre Fletcher 50; Tom Curran 2-63) beat Desert Vipers 84 in 12.1 overs (Tom Curran 12; Fazalhaq Farooqi 3-13, Zahoor Khan 2-8, Imran Tahir 2/8) by 157 runs.