Bangla Tigers turned in yet another clinical performance to hand Team Abu Dhabi their first defeat of Abu Dhabi T10 on Friday. Chasing an imposing total of 130, Liam Livingstone’s team kept losing wickets at regular intervals and could only manage 120 despite a brilliant half-century by Chris Gayle. For the Tigers, after James Faulkner removed the two openers, it was Benny Howell yet again who turned the match with his economical two overs that also fetched his team two crucial wickets.
Earlier, an injury to Phil Salt during Bangla Tigers’ innings resulted in a change in the opening combination for Team Abu Dhabi as Paul Stirling was joined by the left-handed Colin Ingram at the top of the order. The change didn’t work though as both were snared cheaply by James Faulkner in the third over of the chase. Livingstone's arrival added spark to the contest as he hit Luke Wood for a hat-trick of sixes in the fifth over. However, just when it seemed it was the captain’s night, he got out trying to hit Wood for another six.
With the required run rate creeping up and wickets tumbling at the other end, Gayle decided to attack Isuru Udana’s medium pace, taking 16 of the Sri Lankan’s bowling. But Benny Howell’s next over once again swung the momentum of the game as he gave away only five runs while also picking up Chris Benjamin’s wicket with a clever knuckle ball. Phil Salt finally made an appearance, and tried to revive the chase with a 7 ball 17 but was cleaned up by the ever reliable Howell to become the fifth wicket to fall. His dismissal left Gayle with a mountain to climb. Although Jamaican tried his best, he didn’t get much support from the other end.
Put in to bat by Livingstone, Bangla Tigers were dealt with an early blow when Johnson Charles got out on the second ball of the innings. Will Jacks, who has developed a reputation for himself in this format brought out innovation in the first over itself, hitting two boundaries with perfectly executed scoop shots. Before causing much damage against Liam Livingstone, he was dropped twice in Marchant De Lange’s over by Muhammad Farooq. Livngstone had to bear the brunt of the drops as Jacks hit him for a boundary followed by two consecutive sixes in the third over. Jacks’ charmed stay at the crease was finally brought to an end by Naveen-ul-Haq’s slower ball but he had scored 43 by then.
Although Karim Janat followed Jacks back to the pavilion soon, Hazratullah Zazai took control of the innings. He smashed a couple of sixes off the bowling of Danny Briggs but played one shot too many to finally give his wicket away for 41 to the spinner. The finishing touches to the innings were provided by the captain himself who blasted de Lange for two sixes in the final over. Du Plessis’ cameo of 22 not out helped the Tigers post a challenging 130.