The Abu Dhabi Knight Riders registered their first victory of the ILT20 after defeating Sharjah Warriors by five wickets here at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. The Abu Dhabi Knight Riders' bowlers set up the match beautifully by restricting the Warriors to 130 for nine in their 20 overs. Thereafter, Joe Clarke played a brilliant innings of 54 runs off 32 balls to help his team cross the line with 3.2 overs to spare.
The Abu Dhabi Knight Riders opening batters Joe Clarke and Paul Stirling put their team in the driver's seat with an 86-run partnership in just 8.2 overs. Clarke smacked Naveen-ul-Haq for consecutive boundaries and took his team to 19 for no loss at the end of the second over. The Englishman upped the ante even more when he smashed two sixes and two fours off Junaid Siddique in the fourth over. Paul Stirling also joined the party as he struck two sixes to help his team coast to 71 for no loss in six overs.
Marcus Stoinis managed to break the opening partnership when he dismissed Clarke for 54 runs off 32 balls in the ninth over, but the Knight Riders were just 45 runs away from their target. Thereafter, Brandon King played a short innings of 19 runs off 18 balls and took the Knight Riders even closer to their target at 118 for two. The Warriors picked up three wickets in quick succession, but Connor Esterhuizen stood tall and wrapped up the match with a boundary off Naveen-ul-Haq's bowling in the seventeenth over.
The Abu Dhabi Knight Riders bowlers started off on a great note as Matiullah Khan bowled out Dawid Malan for seven runs off eight balls in the fourth over. However, Evin Lewis got the ball rolling for the Warriors with a six and a four in the fifth over. Tom Kohler-Cadmore also showed top form as he struck Andre Russell for a six in the eighth over. Lewis and Kohler-Cadmore kept the Warriors' innings on track for a few overs, but the momentum shifted towards the Knight Riders when Akeal Hosein dismissed Lewis for 23 runs off 20 balls and ended the 50-run partnership between Lewis and Kohler-Cadmore.
Thereafter, the Warriors had a massive batting collapse. Sabir Rao sent Moeen Ali back for nine runs off eight balls in the twelfth over and then Kohler-Cadmore was on his way back for 46 runs off 40 balls after being run out in the fourteenth over. Matiullah Khan struck again as he got Marcus Stoinis caught out for just six runs in the fifteenth over. The Warriors had two more run outs with Mohammad Nabi and Naveen-ul-Haq falling short of the crease in the sixteenth and nineteenth overs respectively. The Warriors were in a precarious position at 116 for nine at the end of the penultimate over.
However, Chris Benjamin provided a fantastic flourish in the end with a boundary and a six off Marchant de Lange in the last over and took the Warriors to a respectable total of 130 for nine at the end of their 20 overs.
Speaking about their performance, Abu Dhabi Knight Riders' Joe Clarke said, "The game was won in the first six overs when Paul and I scored 71 runs. It definitely got harder to bat in the middle phase of our innings, but the main thing is that we got a victory."
Meanwhile, Sharjah Warriors' Marcus Stoinis said, "The margins are always small in T20 cricket. We got off to a good start with the bat, but we didn't capitalise on that. We had a few runouts as well."
The cricket fans are in for the biggest treat of their lives as the playoffs of the ILT20 begin on 8 February 2023 at the Dubai International Stadium. Along with the fantastic cricket on display, the fans will also have a chance to enjoy several games, food trucks and live performances at the Playoffs festival. The exciting carnival will be held at the Playoffs venues from 3 pm onwards on each of the match days.
Brief scores: Sharjah Warriors 130 for 9 (Tom Kohler-Cadmore 46, Chris Benjamin 24*, Matiullah Khan 2/24) Abu Dhabi Knight Riders 133 for 5 (Joe Clarke 54, Paul Stirling 39, Muhammad Jawadullah 3/24). (ANI)