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ILT20: Unbeaten fifties by Alex Hales, Sherfane Rutherford carry Desert Vipers past MI Emirates

Abu Dhabi (UAE), Jan 25 (IANS) Sparkling unbeaten half-centuries by Alex Hales and Sherfane Rutherford and skipper Colin Munro’s cameo knock helped Desert Vipers overcome MI Emirates by seven wickets in Match 15 of the DP World ILT20 at the Zayed Cricket Stadium.

Desert Vipers, through a fine display of intelligent bowling, then restricted MI Emirates to 169/5 despite half-centuries from Kieron Pollard and Nicholas Pooran, in the match played on Tuesday night.

Hales hit an unbeaten 62 runs off 44 balls with six boundaries and two sixes while Sherfane Rutherford scored a breezy unbeaten 56 off 29 balls with four boundaries and three sixes to put on an unbeaten 94 off 52 balls for the fourth wicket.

The Desert Vipers’ skipper Colin Munro set the momentum through a fine knock of 41 runs off 22 balls with four boundaries and three sixes. Their brilliant batting overshadowed Kieron Pollard’s 67 not out off 39 balls with one boundary and six sixes and Nicholas Pooran’s 57 off 49 balls with four boundaries and two sixes. Together they had put on 116 runs for the fourth wicket in 69 balls.

Desert Vipers thus moved to the top position in the points table with eight points from five matches while the MI Emirates will remain in the third slot with six points from five matches.

Desert Vipers had won the toss and elected to bowl. UAE players Muhammad Waseem and Vriitya Aravind opened the innings for MI Emirates. Gus Atkinson clean bowled Aravind on 3 with the last ball of the second over through an in-dipper.

With the first ball of the third over, Sheldon Cottrell forced Waseem to edge to wicketkeeper Sam Billings for 5. With both the openers back in the dug-out for just 10 runs, Andre Fletcher and Nicholas Pooran began the rescue act. From the first five overs, MI Emirates could score only 24 runs.

Fletcher and Pooran managed to keep the scoreboard moving only through singles and doubles rather than boundaries. They added 43 runs in six overs when Wanindu Hasaranga at backward point got Fletcher run out through a direct hit for 21. At the halfway mark, MI Emirates reached 65/3.

Pooran hit Harsaranga for a six over long-on in the 11th over. Cottrell was re-introduced for the 12th over but he failed to break the partnership. Mateesha Pathirana bowled a tight 13th over giving away just six runs. Rohan Mustafa too bowled brilliantly giving away just nine runs from his two overs. MI Emirates thus posted 109 in 15 overs.

The last five overs began with Pooran hitting Mustafa, who bowled the 16th over, for a six over long-on. Pollard reached his half-century in 31 balls hitting Atkinson for two consecutive sixes in the 18th over. Pooran too reached his half-century in 46 balls and the pair recorded their 100 runs partnership in 68 deliveries.

Tom Curran yorked Pooran for 57 with the fifth ball of the last over and also got Najibullah Zadran caught by Alex Hales at long-on with the next ball. In the final five overs, MI Emirates added 60 runs for a total of 169 for 5 in 10 overs.

Chasing a run rate of 8.45. Desert Vipers began shakily losing their opener Rohan Mustafa to the third ball of the first over from Trent Boult. Mustafa on 1, wanting to hit Boult over the covers, got a top edge and was caught by Pooran, running back from the covers. Brad Wheal was punished for 16 runs in the second over with Hales hitting a boundary and skipper Colin Munro cracking a six and a boundary off successive deliveries. Munro also flicked Boult for a six in the third over. The score went past the 50-run mark in the sixth over.

Munro hit Samit Patel’s first delivery for a six over long-on. He tried for another six off the next ball but Pollard, leaping high at long-on, pulled off a brilliant catch. Munro hit 41 runs, and along with Hales, the pair put on 72 runs in 41 deliveries. Next man Sam Billing fell to the fifth ball from Patel, top-edging to Waseem at extra cover.

Sherfane Rutherford joined Hales and went for his shots. He lifted Patel for two consecutive sixes in the 10th over. At the halfway mark, Desert Vipers were strongly placed at 101/3 needing another 69 runs to win. Hales and Rutherford took their team to the target with 21 balls to spare.

Brief scores:

MI Emirates 169/5 in 20 overs (Andre Fletcher 21, Nicholas Pooran 57, Kieron Pollard 67 not out, Tom Curran 2-38) lost to Desert Vipers 170/3 in 16.3 overs (Alex Hales 62 not out, Colin Munro 41, Sherfane Rutherford 56 not out, Samit Patel 2-23).

–IANS

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