LONDON: Alishan Sharafu hit a stunning 82 not out to guide Abu Dhabi Knight Riders to a six-wicket victory over the Desert Vipers in the International League T20 on Saturday.
The Indian-born UAE player scored almost two runs a ball, with his 82 coming from 47 balls, in a winning score of 160 for four.
The Knight Riders were helped in the middle-order with solid knocks from Imad Wasim and Andre Russell, which will also have done no harm to the Knight Riders’ net-run rate.
The Vipers will have been disappointed to not have scored more than their 154 for eight, with only captain Colin Munro putting together anything like a decent innings with the bat.
With the ball, superstar Pakistan bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi set the tone early on during the powerplay but could not get the breakthrough wicket.
Wanindu Hasaranga and Mohammed Amir did grab wickets, but alongside Tymal Mills, they were unable to stop the explosive batting from the Knight Riders.
Vipers’ Sherfane Rutherford was philosophical about the defeat.
“It is one of those days when things did not go well for us, I think 150 was always below par, we were about 20 or 30 runs short, having said that, I think we lost wickets in clusters, and when that happens it tends to push you on the backfoot,” he said.
“I think it is a learning for us, but we have to learn fast because the games will come thick and fast, and it is for us to look in the mirror and correct our small mistakes and come back better tomorrow.
“I do not think the toss decides the game, I think if we had batted properly we could have won the game. Having said that, I also think the Knight Riders bowled with a plan.
“As a team we need to look back at ourselves and try and see where we can correct a few things. In tournaments like these, these things do happen, it is just for us to bounce back,” he added.
Despite the defeat, Vipers head coach James Foster said ahead of the game that the franchise’s Pakistan international stars — Shaheen Shah Afridi, Azam Khan and Shadab Khan — have integrated seamlessly into the squad and given it a boost.
“They (Pakistan players) bring a lot of energy based on their ability and you get very excited by that,” he said.
Foster was also full of praise for Sri Lanka Twenty20 International captain Hasaranga ahead of the Knight Riders clash.
“I think Hasaranga is an incredibly underrated batter and whenever he comes in, he has got his own style,” he said.
“He is incredibly proactive and always taking the game forward, he has got great touch against the spinners, but also his ability against the seam (is excellent) and he hits the ball in his areas. He is a very impactful batter.”