Desert Vipers dominated in all departments of the game to produce a 22-run win over Dubai Capitals in the 25th match of the DP World ILT20 held at the Dubai International Stadium, confirming a top-two finish for them.
Although it was a must-win match for Dubai Capitals, they could muster only 160 for 7 in 20 overs chasing Desert Vipers' total of 182 for 7 on Thursday night. This win has carried Desert Vipers to the top of the table and guaranteed them a top-two finish.
The Desert Vipers bowled and fielded brilliantly after Sam Billings and Sherfane Rutherford cracked half-centuries to put on 80 runs in just seven overs for the fifth wicket.
Rutherford hit Yusuf Pathan for five sixes in the 16th over to take 31 runs. This onslaught proved to be vital in Desert Vipers' win. Desert Vipers got off to a shocking start losing opener Alex Hales -- the highest scorer of the tournament, for 1 run after Dubai won the toss and elected to bowl.
Hales fell to the last ball of the first over from Fred Klaassen edging to Yusuf Pathan, who fumbled with the catch but wicketkeeper Robin Uthappa snapped the rebound.
The second over saw Mustafa open out and pull Hazrat Luqman over deep backward square for a six. He also drove the last ball past mid-off for a boundary.
Yusuf Pathan, who bowls off break, was introduced for the third over and he struck immediately by taking the valuable wicket of skipper Colin Munro, caught and bowled for 1. Pathan gave away just three runs in that over.
UAE's right-arm medium pacer Akif Raja too bowled brilliantly yielding only three runs. Mustafa hit his second six pulling Chamika Karunaratne into the stands.
He also hit two boundaries off Klaassen which included an exquisite straight-driven boundary. But he fell to the last ball of that over caught at fine leg boundary by Karunaratne for 31.
After the Power-play, Desert Vipers were 45 for 3. Dubai Capitals strike bowler Adam Zampa was introduced for the seventh over. Sam Billing and Wanindu Hasaranga played him cautiously and by the halfway mark Desert Vipers were 74 for 3.
In the 11th over Zampa struck forcing Hasaranga to go for a slog sweep and top edge to wicketkeeper Uthappa for 14. Sherfane Rutherford joined Billing and carried Desert Vipers past the 100-run mark in the 14th over.
Billings on 42, who attempted a slog sweep and top-edged, was dropped by Akif off Karunaratne. Rutherford hit Pathan for five consecutive sixes - the first six over long-off, the second over long-on, the third and fourth through pulled shots, while he swept the fifth for a six.
Thirty-one runs came off that over and Billings reached his half-century in 43 deliveries. Rutherford too raced to his half-century in 23 balls but in the very next ball, he was run out to an under-arm direct hit by Uthappa.
The pair had put on 80 runs in seven overs for the fifth wicket. Billings hit Karunaratne to Powell at long-on at 54 and Desert Vipers ended up posting 182 for 7 in 20 overs.
In reply, Dubai Capitals' opener George Munsey, fresh from his knock of 57 against Abu Dhabi Knight Riders in his last match, was out to the second ball of the second over from Sheldon Cottrell when he was bowled around his legs for a duck.
Sikandar Raza, who joined opener Robin Uthappa, hit Cottrell for a six to fine leg in the fourth over. When on 26, Uthappa was dropped by Gus Atkinson at the deep mid-wicket boundary off Luke Wood.
Two balls later, Uthappa (30) tried his luck again by pulling Wood to Atkinson who took the catch. Raza then hit Tom Curran over mid-wicket for a six. At his score of 30, he was dropped by Atkinson at deep square leg off Hasaranga despite a brilliant effort.
At the halfway, Dubai Capitals needed 106 runs to reach the target. In the 12th over, Dasun Shanaka fell to a brilliant diving catch by Rutherford at third man for 11 off Atkinson.
Skipper Rovman Powell walked in with the required rate of 11.75. At the score of 90, Raza got out to a spectacular running catch by Mustafa racing to his right from deep point to extra cover off Cottrell for 41.
Half the side was back in the dug-out when Pathan, going for a mighty slog, got bowled by Hasaranga for 5. Dubai Capitals now needed 71 runs from the last five overs. Karunaratne fell in the 17th over to Curran for 10.
Powell kept Dubai Captals' hopes alive by playing some big shots but could not carry his team to the target. He hit 33 off 25 balls with three boundaries and two sixes before being clean-bowled by Wood.
Speaking about his performance, Desert Vipers' Sherfane Rutherford said, "Our coach has given me the role of giving the team the best finish I can and it's good that I'm carrying out the role well.
I hope I can continue performing for the team in the rest of the games." Meanwhile, Dubai Capitals' Robin Uthappa said, "The five sixes from Sherfane Rutherford definitely took the momentum away from us.
We dropped a catch of Sam Billings just before that over. I thought we did a really good job to restrict the Vipers to the score they were at before that over."
Desert Vipers 182/7 in 20 overs (Rohan Mustafa 31, Sam Billings 54, Sherfane Rutherford 50; Fred Klassen 3-34) beat Dubai Capitals 160/7 in 20 overs (Robin Uthappa 30, Sikandar Raza 41, Rovman Powell 33; Sheldon Cottrell 2-36, Luke Wood 2-36) by 22 runs.