DP World ILT20: Desert Vipers outclass Abu Dhabi Knight Riders

The Vipers beat Abu Dhabi Knight Riders by seven wickets


James Jose

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Desert Vipers players celebrate a wicket against Abu Dhabi Knight Riders at the Dubai International Stadium. — Photo by Neeraj Murali
Desert Vipers players celebrate a wicket against Abu Dhabi Knight Riders at the Dubai International Stadium. — Photo by Neeraj Murali

Published: Wed 18 Jan 2023, 10:36 PM

Sometimes, all it takes is a glimpse to know which teams look the part and which teams don’t. It is still early days to make a judgement but on early evidence, Desert Vipers are a handful of franchises that have hit the ground running in the inaugural DP World International League T20 (ILT20)..

The Desert Vipers were clinical in their opener against the Sharjah Warriors in Dubai the other night. And on Wednesday night, at the same venue — the Dubai International Cricket Stadium — Colin Munro’s Vipers swallowed another victim along the way. This time it was the Abu Dhabi Knight Riders, against whom they cruised home comfortably to a seven-wicket win with 26 deliveries to spare.

That made it two victories from two for the Manchester United-owned franchise, while the Knight Riders have it all to do after suffering their third defeat on the trot. The Shah Rukh Khan co-owned franchise are languishing at the foot of the points table.

And once again, it was the irrepressible opener Alex Hales and his English compatriot Sam Billings who stood out during a modest chase of 134. Hales, who had stroked an unbeaten 83 against the Warriors, timed the chase perfectly with a fluent 64 from 47 deliveries that consisted of seven boundaries and a six.

Billings, who had made 49 against the Warriors, remained not out on 35 after UAE opener Rohan Mustafa had smacked a 11-ball 23 with five boundaries.

Sri Lankan leg spinner Wanindu Hasaranga slotted in perfectly with the Vipers following the Indian tour, with a Player of the Match performance of 3-18. In fact, Hasaranga was on a hat trick, but he was unable to achieve it.

“I came after the India series and got straight to this game. I’m really happy with the win,” Hasaranga said at the post-match presentation.

“I think this was a good toss to win, the pitch was a bit slow. My idea was to try and bowl dot balls,” he added.

On getting Andre Russell for a duck, he said: “He's a dangerous player, I'm happy I got him out first ball.”

Earlier, one would have thought that with a decent batting line-up that includes the likes of West Indian dasher Andre Russell, who can change the complexion of a T20 game, Sunil Narine and Colin Ingram, the Abu Dhabi Knight Riders would rack up competitive totals.

But their batting line-up has so far failed to live up to the expectations.

Narine, who is adept at opening the innings, which he has done for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL, came in at No.5 in the tournament opener against the Dubai Capitals before dropping down to No.7 for the games against the Gulf Giants and the Desert Vipers.

And over the course of these three matches, Narine has had scores of 4, 11 and 3. Bowling wise, he has taken 1-28, 2-21 and 1-26.

Likewise, Russell has had an underwhelming run with the bat so far, with scores of 12, 26 and a duck, although that 26 against the Gulf Giants, came from 12 balls.

The Abu Dhabi Knight Riders clearly missed Paul Stirling with the burly Irishman having scores of 54 from 38 deliveries and a run-a-ball 20 in their first two games.

Instead, it was Brandon King, who was pushed up the order to open with wicketkeeper-batsman Kennar Lewis, with Sri Lankan Dhananjaya de Silva slotting in at No.3 and Colin Ingram at four.

Another Sri Lankan Charith Asalanka played at No.5 followed by Russell and Narine.

Despite so much tinkering with their line-up, it was King, who was the lone bright spot, if one could say so, for the Knight Riders.

King enjoyed his promotion to open by top scoring with 57 from 44 deliveries that had five boundaries and two sixes.


Desert Vipers beat Abu Dhabi Knight Riders by 7 wickets.

Abu Dhabi Knight Riders: 133-8 (Brandon King 57, Charith Asalanka 26; Wanindu Hasaranga 3-18, Gus Atkinson 2-35)

Desert Vipers: 135-3 in 15.4 overs (Alex Hales 64, Sam Billings 35 not out, Rohan Mustafa 23, Sherfane Rutherford 11 not out)

Player of the Match: Wanindu Hasaranga


Dubai Capitals vs Gulf Giants, Sharjah Cricket Stadium, 6 pm

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