DUBAI: Last year’s winners of ILT20, the Gulf Giants have encountered challenges to their title from all angles in 2024.
Entering their seventh match on Sunday, they lay bottom of the table. Faced by the Sharjah Warriors, who elected to field, the Giants reached 75 for one in nine overs, before the left arm spin of Sean Williams accounted for Chris Lynn, 45, and James Vince, 20.
In trying to release the pressure exerted by the Zimbabwean, they both holed out in the deep at long-on and long-off, respectively.
Worse was to follow as Jamie Cox misjudged William’s spin to lose his middle stump at 87 for four, a potentially precarious position after 11.5 overs.
Shimron Hetmyer was playing cautiously until, trying to clear the long on boundary in the 16th over, he was caught by the fielder diving forward.
Requests for the third umpire to review the cleanliness of the catch resulted in a somewhat controversial reprieve for Hetmyer. He made full use of this, ruining Williams’ figures in striking twenty from his final over. On this incident, it could be argued that the match turned, as the Giants went on to post 187 for six, Jamie Overton contributing 25 runs.
The Warrior’s cause was not helped in losing two wickets without a run being scored, both claimed by the UAE’s young tyro, Aayan Khan. Despite some aggressive and characteristic hitting from Tom Kohler Cadmore, who succumbed to one attempt to hit one six too many on 39, the Warriors’ innings never recovered. Lewis Gregory made 30, but the innings petered out on 108 after 17.3 overs.
We will never know how this match would have evolved if Hetmyer had been given out by the third umpire.
In his post-match interview, Sean Williams reflected that his final over, which went for twenty, was a fulcrum for the outcome.
It was interesting to observe that as soon as Hetmyer saw the view of the catch on screen he was in no doubt that the verdict would be in his favor. He really was the player of the match.
Instead, the award went to the UAE bowler, Zubair, for claiming four wickets for twenty-two in his four overs.
Six of the wickets went to young UAE players, Khan and Zubair.
This is proof of the influence that ILT20 is having on the development on the next generation of UAE players. It is likely to stand them in good stead in the competitive associate nation cricket scene.
It may also prove to be critical in determining the final positions in the group stage, as four team sit on six points, behind Abu Dhabi Knight Riders, on eight points and MI Emirates on twelve.