Wanindu Hasaranga's deadly three-wicket spell and Alex Hales' half-century (64) lifted Desert Vipers to a seven-wicket win over Abu Dhabi Knight Riders (ADKR) in the seventh match of the ILT20 at the Dubai International stadium, here on Wednesday.
Hasaranga, playing his first match, bagged three wickets for 18 runs, was backed by Gus Atkinson (2 for 35), to restrict Abu Dhabi Knight Riders to 133 for 8 in 20 overs. Abu Dhabi opener Brandon Kings' 57 off 44 balls with five boundaries and two sixes went in vain.
Chasing the target, Desert Vipers' opener Alex Hales, played yet another super knock of 64 off 47 balls with seven boundaries and a six. Sam Billings chipped in with an unbeaten 35.
Hales and Billings put on a 74 runs partnership for the third wicket, and Abu Dhabi Knight Riders crashed to their third successive defeat. Desert Vipers had won the toss and elected to bowl.
Abu Dhabi opener Kennar Lewis fell to the first ball of the second over from Gus Atkinson, flicking across the line, and the leading edge soaring high into the hands of wicketkeeper Sam Billings for 1.
In the third over, Sheldon Cottrell also had Dhananjaya De Silva top edge to Billings for 5. Colin Ingram and opener Brandon King took the score to 36 for 2 in the first five overs.
The first six of the match came in the sixth over when King slashed Tom Curran over backward point. At the score of 54, Abu Dhabi lost their third wicket when UAE's Rohan Mustafa had Colin Ingram hit high into the hands of Curran at long-off for 15.
Charith Asalanka hit Ben Howell for a six over deep mid-wicket and by the halfway mark, Abu Dhabi were 71 for 3. King also smashed Wanindu Hasaranga, playing his first match, to deep mid-wicket for a six and scored two consecutive boundaries off Howell in the 12th over.
The score went past the 100-run mark in the 13th over. In the 14th over, Hasaranga removed Asalanka, caught by Mustafa at the mid-wicket boundary for 26, and with the very next ball he had Andre Russell caught by Curran at long on.
With half the side back in the dug-out for 103 in 13.4 overs, skipper Sunil Narine walked in. He lasted just six balls hitting Hasaranga high to Alex Hales at long-on for 3. Hasaranga produced a wicket-maiden too while choking the run flow.
King reached his half century in 39 balls. Akeal Hosein hit the fourth six of the match over long-on off Atkinson. Off the first ball of the last over, Atkinson clean bowled King for 57.
In the final five overs, Abu Dhabi could muster only 26 runs and lost three wickets to post a total of 133 for 8 in 20 overs. Incidentally, this was their highest score in the three matches after having been able to post only 114 runs in each of their first two games.
Desert Vipers' strong batting line up had to score at a run rate of only 6.65. UAE's Rohan Mustafa opened with Alex Hales, the hero of their first match win, and who had scored an unbeaten knock of 83 against Sharjah Warriors in the last match.
Lahiru Kumara was hit over the point for a boundary by Mustafa while Hales pulled Sabir Rao for another boundary. Hales also lifted Kumara for a six over long-off while Mustafa smashed Kumara for a boundary through the covers and another one through mid-on.
The pair put 39 runs in 3.3 overs before Mustafa top-edged Hosein to Kumara at short leg for 23. Skipper Colin Munro who had got out for a duck in the first match, drove Andre Russell into the hands of Dhananjaya for 1.
Sam Billings joined Hales and this pair which had put on a 128 runs partnership in their last match, were able to steer their team smoothly to a commanding position in this match.
At the halfway mark, Desert Vipers needed only 59 runs more. Hales reached his second successive half century in 36 balls. When Desert Vipers needed 18 more runs, Narine clean bowled Hales for 64.
Billings, through his unbeaten 35, ensured the win with 26 balls to spare. "I played in the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 and the Asia Cup 2022, so I know how to bowl in these conditions.
We have a very balanced side and we are looking to win every game," said Desert Vipers' leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga.
Brief scores: Abu Dhabi Knight Riders 133 for 8 in 20 overs (Brandon King 57, Charith Asalanka 26; Gus Atkinson 2 for 35, Wanindu Hasaranga 3 for 18) lost to Desert Vipers 135 for 3 in 15.4 overs (Rohan Mustafa 23, Alex Hales 64, Sam Billings 35 not out) by 7 wickets.