Iftikhar Ahmed’s stupendous unbeaten 83 from 30 balls studded with eight sixes and five boundaries helped Bangla Tigers leap past Delhi Bulls in the 19th match on the seventh day of the Abu Dhabi T10 at the Abu Dhabi Zayed Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.
Bangla Tigers who were at bottom of the points table recorded their second win and pushed Delhi Bulls to the last slot in the battle of two bottom placed teams.
Delhi Bulls elected to field and began their attack through Imad Wasim. Bangla Tigers’ opener Joe Clarke hit Wasim’s third and fifth deliveries for boundaries. Clarke was more severe on Keemo Paul hitting the first, second and fourth deliveries for boundaries. Paul struck back with the last ball of the over by getting Clarke out for 25.
The third over was bowled by India’s veteran off spinner Harbhajan Singh. He gave away just seven runs preventing the batsmen from scoring any boundaries. Skipper Dwayne Bravo introduced himself and though his second ball was hit for a boundary by Hazratullah Zazai to mid-off, he struck with the third ball to remove Zazai. Jordan Cox, running backwards at mid-off dived and took a brilliant one handed catch to dismiss Zazai.
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Ifthikar Ahmed walked in and hit Bravo’s first delivery for a huge six to deep mid-wicket. He also pulled the next for a boundary. Iftikhar lifted Harbhajan’s fourth delivery to extra cover for another six. The next he drove powerfully through the covers for a boundary. Iftikhar also smashed Richard Gleeson for two consecutive sixes in the sixth over off the fourth and fifth deliveries. Iftikhar’s sixes continued in the seventh over too when he lifted Shiraz for a mighty one over long on.
The eighth over saw Iftikhar at his aggressive best. He smashed Gleeson’s second, fourth and sixth deliveries for a six and picked boundaries off the fourth and fifth deliveries. Twenty-six runs came off that over and he made his partner Colin Munro watch him in awe. His went past his half century in 19 balls.
Bravo bowled a brilliant ninth preventing both batsmen from hitting any boundary. Shiraz was called to bowl the last over. He gave away no boundaries off the first three deliveries but off the fourth delivery, Iftikhar swept him to get a boundary. Off the fifth ball, Iftikhar took a double to move to 82 and flicked the last ball for a single to remain unbeaten on 83 and guide Bangla Tigers to 133 for 2 in 10 overs.
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Delhi Bulls began their chase through opener Rilee Rossouw hitting Mohammad Amir’s third delivery for a six over long on. From the rest of Amir’ deliveries the batsmen could only get singles. Rohan Mustafa, who bowled the second over, earned the first success with the fourth ball by having Tom Banton caught by a diving Iftikhar Ahmed at long on for 4. Jordan Cox who joined Rossouw right away hit a boundary to fine leg off Mustafa.
Rossouw hit the last ball of the third over from Benny Howell for a six to deep mid-wicket. Cox also cut Umair Ali’s first delivery for a boundary past point. With the last delivery he removed danger man Rossouw caught and bowled for 15.
Shakib Al Hasan, as usual, bowled a miserly over giving away just eight runs. Cox made up for that in the next over from Umair Ali hitting him for two consecutive sixes. Delhi Bulls needed 60 runs off the last 18 balls, needing to score at a run rate of 20 runs per over. Luke Fletcher had the free-hitting Cox caught behind by wicketkeeper Joe Clarke for 34. His knock off 21 balls had two boundaries and two sixes. Fletcher gave away only six runs to help his team tighten the grip on the match.
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With 54 runs needed off the last 12 balls, Tim David and Keemo Paul hit Mohammad Amir for one six each. Still 39 runs were needed off the last over. Even though Fletcher was hit for four consecutive sixes by David, they fell short of the target by 12 runs. David remained unbeaten on 50 off 20 balls with six sixes and one boundary. Unfortunately, his knock went in vain.
Bangla Tigers bt Delhi Bulls by 12 runs. Bangla Tigers 133 for 2 in 10 overs (Joe Clarke 25, Iftikhar Ahmed 83n.o) Delhi Bulls 121 for 3 in 10 overs (Jordan Cox 34, Tim David 50n.o)
Player of the Match: Iftikhar Ahmed