Player of Match Rahmanullah Gurbaz came up with fantastic innings of 56 off 39 balls to help the Sharjah Warriors register a four-wicket victory over Abu Dhabi Knight Riders in the inaugural edition of the DP World ILT20 at the Dubai International Stadium on Saturday.
The Warriors restricted the Knight Riders to 149 for four in their 20 overs and then chased down the target in 17 overs. Tom Kohler-Cadmore struck a six and a four in the first two overs as the Warriors raced to 25 for no loss in two overs.
Thereafter, Rahmanullah Gurbaz smashed two boundaries off Sabir Rao in the third over and took his team to 40 for no loss. Gurbaz continued to showcase top form, hitting Andre Russell for two sixes in the fourth over.
Kohler-Cadmore fell for 17 runs off 11 balls to Lahiru Kumara in the sixth over, but Gurbaz kept the Warriors' chase on track with two boundaries off Sunil Narine in the seventh over.
He brought up his half-century in just 33 balls after hitting Akeal Hosein for a boundary in the eighth over. Hosein had the last laugh as he dismissed Gurbaz for 56 runs off 39 balls in the tenth over.
But the batter had already put his team in the driver's seat. The Warriors needed just 59 runs from 63 balls. Thereafter, the Warriors lost a flurry of wickets.
Marcus Stoinis, Joe Denly, Paul Walter and Adam Hose departed in quick succession, but Mohammad Nabi struck two fours and a six and ensured that the Warriors reached their target with three overs to spare.
Stirling leads the way for Knight Riders
The Abu Dhabi Knight Riders got off to a great start with Stirling and Joe Clarke smashing a boundary each in the very first over. Stirling continued to find the fence and took the Knight Riders to 30 for no loss in four overs.
However, the Abu Dhabi side lost its first wicket when Clarke fell to Paul Walter for seven runs off nine balls in the fifth over. But the wicket didn't deter Stirling as he struck Junaid Siddique for consecutive boundaries in the sixth over.
Thereafter, the Knight Riders couldn't find a way to get boundaries on a consistent basis. Stirling struck a boundary off Noor Ahmad's bowling in the eighth over and Dhananjaya de Silva hit a four off Mohammad Nabi's bowling in the tenth over as the Knight Riders reached 80 for one in 12 overs.
Just when the Knight Riders were looking to break free and go for the big shots, they lost Stirling and Dhananjaya in quick succession. First Walter dismissed Dhananjaya for 18 runs off 21 balls in the 13th over and then Stirling was dismissed for 55 runs off 50 balls by Noor Ahmad in the sixteenth over.
Thereafter, Andre Russell and Charith Asalanka thrashed Muhammad Jawadullah for three boundaries and took the Knight Riders' score to 146 for three in 19 overs. However, Naveen-ul-Haq bowled a fantastic last over.
He conceded only three runs and dismissed Russell for 33 runs off 28 balls. Speaking about their performance, Sharjah Warriors' captain Joe Denly said, "Our bowlers set the tone for the whole game.
We never let them get away when they were batting. I thought 150 was a very reasonable score. We are a confident group at the moment and we have a couple of days to recharge and then come back strong in Sharjah."
Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Knight Riders' Akeal Hosein said, "I thought we were 15 runs short with the bat. The Warriors got off to a great start in the powerplay, which allowed them to cruise through in the middle period of the game.
We've had decent performances with bat and ball, but we haven't put everything together as a team."
Abu Dhabi Knight Riders 149/4 in 20 overs (Paul Stirling 55, Andre Russell 33, Paul Walter 2-29) lost to Sharjah Warriors 150/6 in 17 overs (Rahmanullah Gurbaz 56, Lahiru Kumara 3-36) by four wickets.