Dubai Capitals advance after commanding 85-run victory over Abu Dhabi Knight Riders

DUBAI: As the International League T20 enters the knockout stages on Tuesday, we take a look back at some of the most memorable moments from the 30-match league stage which offered some nail-biting action for fans of cricket around the world.

Sikander Raza’s dramatic last ball six to win the match

Not many can boast of winning a match for their team with six runs required off the final ball. Dubai Capitals’ Sikander Raza missed the penultimate ball from Desert Vipers’ Ali Naseer when six was required off two balls for the Capitals in Match 27 to continue to have a chance of making it to the playoffs.

With six runs needed on the final delivery and the fate of the team’s qualification chances on the line, there was immense pressure on Raza to come through for the Capitals and that is exactly what he did.

Ali Naseer bowled a slower ball wide outside off stump, Raza deposited it over long-off and into the stands and celebrated ecstatically as he managed to keep the Capitals’ hopes alive.

Azam Khan’s fastest fifty of the tournament

Chasing a target of 161 against the Gulf Giants, the Desert Vipers lost two quick wickets and were placed at 79-3 when in walked Azam Khan. A six off his first ball was a sign of what was to come.

Cheered on by a packed stadium in Dubai, Azam Khan tore into the Gulf Giants’ bowling striking five fours and four sixes on his way to reach his half-century in just 18 balls.

He took a particular liking towards Carlos Brathwaite as he hit him for two fours and sixes each in the fifteenth over to do dent any hopes the Giants had of winning the game. The Vipers eventually won the game by six wickets with 19 balls to spare.

Shah Rukh Khan’s presence adds to the glamour

Match 3 of the ILT20 was not short of stardom with Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Alex Hales and Wanindu Hasaranga taking the field.

However, the fans blew the roof off the stadium when they saw Shah Rukh Khan, co-owner of the Abu Dhabi Knight Riders, in the stands.

The Abu Dhabi Knight Riders produced a clinical performance in front of their co-owner to win the match comfortably, much to his delight.

Oliver Stone’s dream debut

Match 24 saw Oliver Stone making his ILT20 debut for the Dubai Capitals and it was one to remember. Finishing with figures of 4 for 14 in his quota of four overs, Stone had the batters guessing throughout his spell.

His first over in particular was fast bowling at its best as it had pace, swing and immaculate accuracy- the trifecta of fast bowling. Not only was it a maiden over but he also accounted for the wickets of Gulf Giants’ in-form batter Chris Lynn and Jordan Cox who was bowled by an absolute peach.

He further went on to pick the wickets of Shimron Hetmyer and Jamie Overton to restrict them to 126-9.

Shaheen Afridi’s last ball finish with the bat

Reduced to 28-4 at one point while chasing 150 against a high-quality MI Emirates bowling attack, the Desert Vipers had a mountain to climb if they were to pull off a victory.

Sherfane Rutherford (35), Wanindu Hasaranga (26) and Azam Khan (20) provided vital contributions to bring the equation down to 21 runs from 16 balls. But with just two wickets in hand, the MI Emirates looked like they would win the game.

Shaheen Afridi, however, played a crucial unbeaten cameo of 17 runs from 12 balls that saw the Vipers over the line.

Trent Boult had 10 runs to defend in the final over and three off the final ball. Shaheen Afridi struck the final ball over point and ran like his life depended on it. A dive in the end to complete the third run helped seal the victory for the Desert Vipers.

Ali Naseer’s blinder to get rid of Nicholas Pooran

In match 15, just as MI Emirates skipper Nicholas Pooran started to get going having struck a four and a six, Desert Vipers’ Ali Naseer took a blinder at short third man to send him back to the pavilion.

Vipers’ fast bowler Matheesha Pathirana bowled a wide yorker to Pooran, who sliced it hoping to get four runs past Naseer.

But Naseer flew to his left with both arms outstretched and plucked the ball out of thin air to take one of the best catches of the tournament and break the momentum Pooran was starting to generate for MI Emirates in the process. 

Andre Russell smashes Jason Holder

In match 20, Abu Dhabi Knight Riders’ Andre Russell reminded everyone of why he is so feared especially in the death overs.

Having Abu Dhabi Knight Riders at 112-7 at one point, the Dubai Capitals would have hoped to bowl them out for a low score but Andre Russell took matters into his own hands when he smashed 31 runs off Jason Holder in the 17th over to take the Knight Riders to 183 by the end of their 20th over in the company of player of the match David Willey.

After a no ball on the first ball of the over, Russell left no part of the ground untouched as he struck Holder for two sixes, two fours and two doubles to completely shift the momentum of the game towards his team as they went on to win by 29 runs.

Adil Rashid announces arrival at ILT20

Sharjah Warriors’ Adil Rashid spun a web around the Abu Dhabi Knight Riders in Match 25 to have them all out for a paltry score of 94.

Just his second game in the season, Rashid didn’t show any signs of rustiness as he ran through the Knight Riders’ top and middle order with his bag of tricks to register figures of 4 for 12 in his four overs including a maiden.

He mixed his variations well with the batters unable to pick his leg spinners, googlies and sliders apart as he went on to bowl 14 dot balls in his destructive spell.

All-girls soft ball cricket 

While a large turnout for all the matches of this edition reflected the increasing following for this tournament, the ILT20 ensured the stage is used as a platform to get young kids attention towards cricket by hosting soft-ball matches for them ahead of the day’s play in each venue.

In Dubai, an all-girls match too was held ahead of the day’s play at the ‘Ring of Fire’ Stadium, giving the budding cricketers a feel of the international stadium and an opportunity to play and meet their favourite stars.

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