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Recent Match Report – Gladiators vs Abu Dhabi 6th Match 2021/22

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Team Abu Dhabi 99 for 6 (Overton 33*, Hasaranga 4-12) beat Deccan Gladiators 97 for 9 (Smith 34) by four wickets

With five needed off the last ball, Danny Briggs was facing a man who had yet to bowl a ball in the tournament, never mind the innings itself. He duly hit Anwar Ali for six to seal a third consecutive win for Team Abu Dhabi in a nail-biting encounter against Deccan Gladiators at the Zayed Cricket Ground. Yet, that was just the final act of a dramatic contest that went down to the wire.

“I was just thinking about getting good contact on the ball and I got a top edge which went high and luckily for me, just long enough,” Briggs said afterwards.

Long enough by just a whisker. Hamid Hassan had steamed in to Jamie Overton for the penultimate delivery, before pulling up and having to limp off, leaving Wahab Riaz to turn to his countryman Anwar. It was Anwar’s first ball of this year’s T10 and his length delivery was met with a top edge from Briggs which flew off the bat and towards the fine leg boundary where none other than Andre Russell was placed. Russell had starred with the bat in Deccan’s win on Saturday, but was dismissed for a golden duck earlier and bowled a costly ninth over which went for 17. Yet, perhaps, this was his moment to be a hero again…

The ball seemed for all it’s worth to be sailing over the boundary and into the Team Abu Dhabi dugout, but Russell leapt and somehow flicked it back in. The ground held its breath to see whether the West Indian was in contact with the boundary cushion. No one, not even Russell, really had an inkling as to who had won. It was agonisingly tight, before replays indicated that his heel was barely touching the rope at the moment he made contact with the ball. Paul Baldwin, the TV umpire, confirmed to Nigel Llong, the on-field umpire, to raise his arms and confirm that it was six.

A chase of 98 should have been straightforward. Especially considering the fact that Liam Livingstone’s outfit had breezed to scores of 145 and 132 in their first two matches of the tournament.

But they had yet to deal with the magic of Wanindu Hasaranga. Livingstone, who had seen his England counterparts struggle to pick the Sri Lankan during the T20 World Cup, had breezed to 17 off seven deliveries when Hasaranga came into the attack. Fresh from blasting 30 off 18 with the bat to rescue the Gladiators from 18 for 5, Hasaranga now had the ball in hand.

Livingstone was welcomed with a tossed-up delivery that he top-edged into the Abu Dhabi sky. But, the Gladiators wicketkeeper Tom Moores failed to get anywhere near it. Two balls later, Hasaranga tempted the Englishman yet again and Livingstone again tried to hit him out of the ground. Instead he skied it straight to long-on and with the captain, Phil Salt and Paul Stirling all back in the hutch and no Chris Gayle, the Gladiators had every chance of becoming the first side in T10 history to defend a total of fewer than 100.

Not least when the very next ball, Colin Ingram was undone by a wrong-un and Team Abu Dhabi were four down for 44. There is no such thing as defending out the hat-trick ball in this format: Overton came to the crease to face the music and was lucky to sneak a bottom-edge to the boundary as he swept at Hasaranga.

But Hasaranga wasn’t done yet. He was fortunate to get an lbw decision in his favour against Chris Benjamin, as replays showed a clear inside-edge from the batter, but there was nothing lucky about the next ball, Marchant de Lange utterly bamboozled by a wrong-un which crashed into his stumps. Hasaranga and the Gladiators were going in for the kill.

Briggs arrived at the crease for another hat-trick ball and survived, before being beaten by a wrong-un from the Sri Lankan which narrowly missed the stumps. Both he and Overton must have breathed a sigh of relief knowing that Hasaranga had finished. The Sri Lankan ended with figures of 4 for 12 and had left the Abu Dhabi outfit reeling at 53 for 6.

Yet, despite all his heroics with the bat and the ball, it was his fielding that would ultimately prove pivotal. In the next over, Overton skied one towards Hasaranga at midwicket for a regulation catch, which the Sri Lankan failed to hold on to.

And the allrounder made him pay, as he crashed an unbeaten 33 off 18, combining with Briggs to hit 46 off the last four overs and somehow steal a victory for Team Abu Dhabi to maintain their 100% record.

“It’s still T10, you’ve still gotta go [whenever you come in],” Briggs said. “With two overs left, we said to each other that we needed a big one to get ourselves back in.”

Overton added: “We were just trying to play our way, play our strong shots, and try to take one good over. We got a good over in the ninth with Dre and then Briggsy got us over the line.”

Livingstone was beaming with joy at the way the pair rescued his side. “We were pretty much behind the game for all of our innings but I thought Jamie [Overton] played beautifully and it was great for Briggsy to hit the last one for six,” he said.



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More WBBL matches could move to primetime as viewership hits new records

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The crowd for the final in Perth set a new benchmark for a standalone WBBL match

A WBBL final which brought a record crowd and record TV ratings could herald a shift towards more primetime matches in the future as the tournament looks to its next stage of evolution.

Perth Scorchers claimed the title on Saturday in front of 15,511 spectators at Optus Stadium which set a new benchmark for a standalone WBBL match. It also had the largest average broadcast audience in the competition’s history with 535,000 put it ahead of the 2018-19 final which was played ahead of a day of men’s Test cricket.

This was the first season where every match was available on television and overall CA said it was the most-watched edition. While Alistair Dobson, the general manager of Big Bash Leagues, believes the weekend festivals, which see multiple matches at the same venue, will continue to be an important part of the tournament there will be a push to exploit more evening time slots.

“Ultimately the ambition was of getting every game on TV and we were really thankful we could do that this year,” Dobson told ESPNcricinfo. “The next evolution is to optimise those blockbusters and there’s an opportunity for us to explore more primetime matches, whether that’s Thursday or Friday nights, and working with our broadcasters to build up some big annual marquee matches which I think is the obvious next step for the competition.”

The new finals structure, which gave the team who finished top of the regular season direct entry into the final, meant there was a week to promote the match in Perth.

“I think it worked exactly how we intended to give us a full week’s build-up but also rightfully rewarding the team that finished first with the biggest advantage which we felt was warranted,” Dobson said. “The atmosphere and noise just showed how passionate the fans are and think the quality of the game did it justice as well.

The season started in a Tasmania-based hub due to border restrictions in Australia and barring a brief lockdown in Hobart was played without significant problems although two major markets – Melbourne and Sydney – were unable to stage games.

“Firstly just being able to play and getting all eight teams together in Tasmania was no mean feat,” Dobson said. “But then the quality of the cricket throughout, the quality of the overseas players, it was amazing to have such a great group of Indian players, they brought a whole new dimension, alongside all the other players.

“Matched by the depth of talent in Australia, a lot of the really big household names were easily matched by a lot of players we are all getting to know a lot better.

“In reinforces the WBBL as the No.1 cricket league for women and it’s really important we maintain that position in the future.”



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Recent Match Report – South Aust vs Queensland 10th Match 2021/22

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Renshaw hammered 156 from 109 balls after Gurinder Sandhu’s hat-trick had restricted the home side

Queensland 4 for 275 (Renshaw 156*, Bryant 68) beat South Australia 274 (Carey 101, Sandhu 4-44) by six wickets

Ashes hopeful Alex Carey blasted a century for South Australia in a timely return to batting form but it wasn’t enough to prevent a six-wicket loss to Queensland in their one-day clash at Adelaide Oval.
Carey top-scored for his side with 101 from 93 balls and combined with Henry Hunt (61) for a record-breaking 159-run opening stand before Gurinder Sandhu‘s second career hat-trick helped Queensland bowl out the hosts for 274.
Matt Renshaw, who is part of the Australia A squad, anchored the Bulls’ run chase with a career-best unbeaten 156 from 109 balls and received good support from Max Bryant (68), with the pair putting on 177 for the fourth wicket.

It was Queensland’s second win from four matches in the one-day competition this season, while South Australia are struggling with a 1-3 record.

In the mix to replace former captain Tim Paine as Australia’s Test gloveman at the Gabba next month, Carey had failed to reach double figures in any of his previous six innings for the Redbacks this season.

He made a patient start to his innings before blasting his second 50 in just 30 balls, charging to his second one-day century of the season. He smashed a huge slog-sweep six off Marnus Labuschagne but was eventually bowled by the part-time legspinner when attempting to cut a delivery that wasn’t quite as short as he had expected.

Queensland quick Sandhu finished with 4 for 44 from his nine overs, with Matt Kuhnemann also impressing as the final six South Australia wickets fell in the space of just 15 balls.

Like Carey, Travis Head was hoping to impress national selectors, but he was dropped twice before his luck ran out on 29, caught by Mark Steketee off Kuhnemann.

Queensland’s run chase began slowly and they were in trouble early when Test squad members Usman Khawaja and Labuschagne fell cheaply. Labuschagne departed in stunning fashion when he was run out by Hunt’s direct hit from a tough angle.

But Renshaw’s composed knock steered the Bulls home. Featuring 15 fours and five sixes, his century came from 91 balls with his third fifty taking just 16 deliveries as he plundered Wes Agar.



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Abu Dhabi T10, 2021 – Phil Salt, Tom Banton show off their credentials

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Across a weekend of triple-headers, there has been an exhibition of opening batting on display

Across a weekend of triple-headers at the Abu Dhabi T10, there has been an exhibition of opening batting on display. No doubt, the shorter boundaries have helped, especially in a format whereby the risk of losing a wicket is also considerably less.

Nevertheless, it has still required an absolute clinic of hitting. On Saturday, Moeen Ali struck 77* off 23 and Kennar Lewis 65* off 32 for the highest partnership in T10 history, racing to a target of 146 without losing a wicket. Then the Bangla Tigers and the Deccan Gladiators chased down scores of 90 and 95 respectively, with almost half their overs remaining. Hazratullah Zazai, with 46* off 16 and Tom Banton, with 46 off 18, the pick of the bunch.
Phil Salt missed out on Saturday due to a slight knock, but on Sunday he cashed in once again. The Team Abu Dhabi opener carried on his rich run of form with a devastating knock of 63 from 20 deliveries to confirm their spot in the play-offs. Salt’s half-century in 15 balls trumped Moeen’s 16-ball effort as the fastest of the tournament.

If there was any doubt as to whether the injury could have affected him, Salt erased it instantly. In the first over of the chase, he blasted 21 runs off the five deliveries he faced, clipping away his first and last ball from Nuwan Pradeep to the boundary, and smashing two sixes in between.

In a tournament with some of the biggest names in world cricket, Salt has been one of the standout players. The game he was injured in and the game he missed subsequently have been the only two games that Team Abu Dhabi have lost this season.

Across the seven games he’s played, Salt has scored 237 runs at a strike rate of 237. Only Rovman Powell of the Northern Warriors stands above Salt with 267 runs, albeit he has played a game more.

Amongst anyone who has scored at least 100 runs in the Abu Dhabi T10, no batter possesses a better strike rate than Salt. In fact, no one has scored more boundaries than his 17 fours and 21 sixes.

Salt may be the star so far, but he insists that continuously working on the mental side of the game is crucial to his development and he has relished the chance to pick the brains of players like Chris Gayle.

“Something you do when you’re playing well is that you pick your areas based on instinct” Salt said. “Chris Gayle, I’ve chewed his ear off. He’s got so many tools that I want to add to my game… The most impressive thing and a few guys have it, is that ruthless mentality that someone like Chris has, in the way he takes the game on.

“If I can just keep tapping into things like that, the biggest improvements to be made and the lessons to be learnt are from those guys, in terms of how they deal with the game upstairs.”

Asked where he sees himself across formats domestically and internationally, Salt said: “It’s something I used to struggle with, really wanting to get on to the next stage. I still do want it just as bad, but I’m very aware now that the only way to get there is to take it day by day by day. I know that’s a really boring answer, but I’ve found that’s the most effective way to improve and not get ahead of myself.”

Salt’s tale bears a hint of similarity with that of Banton, whose unbeaten 46 against Delhi Bulls included seven fours and two sixes. Two players brimming with talent, with aspirations to regularly represent their country, yet coming to an understanding with their opportunities and their experiences thus far, that ultimately it is something that will find its way, rather than something that can be chased.

Whilst Salt made his international bow in perhaps fortuitous circumstances with three ODIs against Pakistan, Banton was unfortunately part of the England playing group that was forced to isolate before that series.

Banton was the breakout star of 2019 and an England call-up followed – he was part of Eoin Morgan’s white-ball set-up for the best part of a year between November 2019 and September 2020 – yet bubble life and quarantine took its toll on him.

A blistering 47-ball century in the T20 Blast against Kent served as a reminder of his ability, but a second-ball duck in the final against the same opposition summed up a somewhat disappointing and challenging year in which he was also released by Kolkata Knight Riders.

“I had quite a big break. For the whole of October, I didn’t play any cricket – nothing whatsoever. I just lived a social life and saw a lot of friends and family, which I felt was quite important, and now I feel like I’m enjoying it again,” said Banton.

“I’d love to get back in the squad but I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself to be there next year. I just want to enjoy my cricket and I think if you’re in that headspace, the rest will take care of itself.”

For the pair of them, knowing that Morgan is around, will no doubt add some extra motivation as the Abu Dhabi T10 enters its final week.



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