Intense battle on the cards as the DP World ILT20 play-offs commence

ILT20 2023
ILT20 2023 (Credits: Twitter)

An intense battle of nerves and skills will be on display when the DP World ILT20 play-offs begin with table toppers Gulf Giants taking on second placed Desert Vipers in Qualifier 1 on February 8 (Wednesday) at the Dubai International Stadium and when MI Emirates take on Dubai Capitals in the Eliminator at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on February 9 (Thursday).

No team can be assured of a victory as it hasn’t been a smooth ride for them into the play-offs with all four having tasted defeats when they failed to produce their best. Gulf Giants stands tall with only one defeat against Sharjah Warriors who got eliminated in the last league round match. All others have lost over three matches, thus making the play-offs to be an interesting contest. Every team will have to produce their best to advance to the final. Given that each of the four teams have internationally acclaimed limited over cricket players, they can be expected to turn the course of the match any moment.

The DP World ILT20 with a total prize money of USD 1.3m will see the winners walk away with a whopping $700,000 (USD) while the runners-up receive $300,000 (USD).

Gulf Giants will want to remain the giant killers

Gulf Giants have lived up to their name as the giant killers. Their skipper James Vince leads from the front with 321 runs from eight matches at an average of 45.85. They have David Wiese, who is the highest wicket-taker with 15 wickets. The other giants in the team are strike bowlers Chris Jordan, the indomitable hard-hitter Shimron Hetmyer, and two UAE two players- Sanchit Sharma and 17-year-old Ayan Khan- who have contributed immensely to their team’s successful run in the tournament. Speaking about the factors behind his team’s success, Captain James Vince said, “We play every game to try and win it. Great to see guys come in and do well. Conditions will be different for the Wednesday game, but we will approach that match in the best way possible.”

Desert Vipers aim to sting hard

Desert Vipers has time and again proven that on their day they can sting their opponents hard. They have Alex Hales, the highest run getter of the tournament with 465 runs and an average of 58.12, the consistent Sam Billings and bowlers Sheldon Cottrell and Wanindu Hasranga. UAE players Rohan Mustafa and Shiraz Ahmed has been outstanding performers for them too. Skipper Colin Munro spoke about what makes their team special: “Everone has been unbelievable. From the background staff, going back to people in the commercial office, guys doing the media stuff, everyone that’s part of the family.” He also said: “We set out the tournament as a new franchise, as a new team, and we’re trying to make it to the final, and we’re on our way there.”

MI Emirates’s dazzling mix of youth and experience

MI Emirates is the team that dazzles with their mix of youth and experience. They have an inspiring leader in West Indies giant Kieron Pollard who sparkles with the bat and ball and is capable of single-handedly turning the tide of the match. He is backed by his countrymen Andre Fletcher and Nicholas Pooran who can hit their team to victory on their day. Standing tall over all the top players has been UAE’s pride and consistent performer and opener Muhammad Waseem with his national teammate Zahoor Khan, who has proved to be as an excellent strike bowler. The never say die spirit of veterans Dwayne Bravo and Imran Tahir has egged everyone in the team to give their best. Pollard revealed his approach: “It’s just a matter of understanding and easing the pressure on the boys in the new franchise so that they can understand their roles. We basically break it down for them. It’s a matter of putting all the pieces of the puzzle together and playing exciting cricket that MI is known to play.”

Dubai Capitals set to capitalize on their last match win

Though Dubai Capitals clinched the last spot in the play-off, they are a dangerous team on their day as they proved in their last match against MI Emirates when they pulled of a seven-wicket win. They have batsmen who can turn the course of the match any time with the likes of experienced Robin Uhtappa, George Munsey, Dasun Shanka and Rovman Powell at the top. Allrouner Sikandar Raza’s contribution has been immense. If these stars are not enough, they have UAE’s strike bowlers Hazrat Luqman and Akif Raja who have proven to be excellent breakthrough bowlers. They will miss their strike bowler Adam Zampa, who leaves for his national team duty, but with Jake Ball and Fred Klaassen, they are capable of restricting any opponent. Yusuf Pathan, who took charge of captaincy from the last match, after winning, said: “We need such performances from everyone as a batting unit and as a bowling unit and as a team. Winning matches like these makes you champions.”

The DP World ILT20 made its debut at the Dubai International Stadium on 13 January 2023. Some of the greatest cricketing superstars have made their way to the UAE to play in the inaugural edition of the league. The tournament is currently being played in a 34-match format across the UAE’s exemplary, world-class cricket facilities in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Franchise teams, comprising over 100 International and 24 UAE-based players, include Abu Dhabi Knight Riders (Knight Riders Group), Desert Vipers (Lancer Capital), Dubai Capitals (GMR), Gulf Giants (Adani Sportsline), MI Emirates (Reliance Industries), and Sharjah Warriors (Capri Global).

Cricket fans across the world can catch the LIVE telecast of this exciting cricket league on ZEE’s linear channels, digital platform, Zee5 as well as Zee Cinema SD, Zee Cinema HD, Zee Anmol Cinema, &Pictures HD, &Flix SD, &Flix HD, Zee Zest SD, Zee Zest HD, Zee Bangla Cinema, Zee Thirai, and on CricLife across the UAE and MENA regions.

Playoff Schedule:

10 February: Qualifier 2 – Loser of Qualifier 1 vs Winner of Eliminator- 7:30pm

12 February: Final- Winner Q1 v Winner Q2- 7:30pm

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