Abu Dhabi: Desert Vipers’ Alex Hales lit up the Zayed Cricket Stadium through a whirlwind century (110 runs off just 59 balls) studded with seven boundaries and six sixes, to power his team to a massive 111-run win over Abu Dhabi Knight Riders in the ninth match of the International League T20 tournament, here on Friday night.
With his knock, the 6ft 5inch tall England opener earned the honour of becoming the first-century maker of this tournament backed by his skipper Colin Munro’s 56 runs off 46 balls with four boundaries and two sixes. Together, they put on a 164 runs partnership off 95 balls for the second wicket to post a mammoth score of 219 for 4, the highest score of the tournament.
In reply, Abu Dhabi Knight Riders’ poor batting show in this tournament continued as they got bowled out for 108 in 15.1 overs. Sheldon Cottrell led the destruction with a spell of 3 for 14 backed by Wanindu Hasaranga and Benny Howell with two wickets each.
With this, Desert Vipers recorded their third consecutive victory while Abu Dhabi crashed to their fourth successive defeat.
Abu Dhabi had won the toss and put Desert Vipers into bat. UAE’s Rohan Mustafa, who opened with prolific scorer Alex Hales, lifted the first ball of the innings from Andre Russell to the long-on boundary. He then pulled Russell for another boundary off the fourth ball. He went for another big shot off the next ball too and landed up hitting high into the hands of Charith Asalanka at extra cover for 8.
Skipper Colin Munro, who hasn’t been among the runs in this tournament, began cautiously while Hales launched his first six by lifting Akeal Hosein over mid-off. Munro began to open up slowly, and in the fourth over he got two consecutive boundaries off Lahiru Kumara.
Hales then hit Matiuallah Khan for two consecutive boundaries and a six to take 18 runs off that over. Desert Vipers raced to 54 for 1 in the first five overs.
Kumara bowled a tight sixth over forcing Munro and Hales to struggle for runs giving away just seven runs in the over. Hosein bowled a tighter seventh over yielding only three runs. Skipper Sunil Narine who introduced himself for the eight over also gave away only five runs, thus dipping the run rate. Desert Vipers posted 84 for 1 at the halfway mark.
After that, Hales, who had scored 83 not out and 64 from the last two matches, accelerated the run flow and reached his half-century in 30 balls, and Desert Vipers went past the 100-run mark in 11. 2 overs. Hales hit Dhananjaya de Silva for a six and a boundary off successive balls, and he further hit two consecutive sixes off Hosein to long-on and mid-wicket.
Hales moved to his 90s in the 15th over and the score went past the 150-run mark too. The 16th over from Narine saw Hales and Munro record their 150 runs partnership and also Hales reach his century in 52 balls.
Munro too reached his half-century in 39 balls off a six to deep mid-wicket. Kumara broke the 164 runs partnership by having Munro caught at deep mid-wicket by Hosein for 56. Desert Vipers reached the 200-run mark in 18.2 overs through a Sherfane Rutherford boundary.
Kumara struck again to remove Rutherford caught by De Silva at long-on for 23. Hales got run out off the last ball of the innings after taking Desert Vipers to a huge score while Tom Curran remained unbeaten on 16.
Chasing a big total, Abu Dhabi Knight Riders started on a bad note losing opener Brandon King to the last ball of the first over, clean bowled by Sheldon Cottrell for 6. In the third over, Cottrell also removed opener Kennar Lewis caught by Curran at mid-on for 8.
Next man Colin Ingram followed for a duck caught by Munro at square leg off Gus Atkinson. Asalanka got run out off a direct hit by Wanindu Hasaranga from the point for a duck, and Abu Dhabi Riders were reduced to 18 for 4 in 4.4 overs.
UAE’s Zawar Farid hit Atkinson for two boundaries while Dhananjay hit the last ball for a six in the sixth over. Cottrell picked his third wicket having Dhananjay caught behind by wicketkeeper Sam Billings for 12 while Hasaranga had Farid caught and bowled for 10.
Six wickets down for 42 in 7.2 overs, skipper Sunil Narine joined Andre Russell. They took the score to 54 before Narine slog-swept Hasaranga to Munro for 5. Russell hit 57 runs off 29 balls with five boundaries and five sixes to ensure the total crossed the 100-run mark before the UAE pair of Shiraz Ahmed had him caught by Mustafa at sweeper cover.
“We have played some excellent cricket so far and we can’t get complacent. We have all our bases covered as a group and are really excited about what we can achieve. We have to make sure that we keep improving. I know the ground here at Abu Dhabi well and that helped me during my innings,” Desert Vipers’ Hales said after the win.
On the other hand, Abu Dhabi Knight Riders’ Andre Russell said, “I strongly believe in luck in cricket and luck is just not going our way at the moment. Alex Hales and Colin Munro batted very well. They analysed the wicket and realised what they can do on the wicket.”
Brief scores: Desert Vipers 219 for 4 in 20 overs (Alex Hales 110, Colin Munro 56, Sherfane Rutherford 23; Lahiru Kumara 2 for 31) beat Abu Dhabi Knight Riders 108 in 15.1 overs ( Andre Russell 57; Sheldon Cottrell 3 for 14, Wanindu Hasaranga 2 for 21, Benny Howell 2 for 6) by 111 runs.