ILT20: Magnificent Alex Hales guides Desert Vipers to victory

Faced with a modest chase of 146, the Vipers waltzed home with 20 deliveries to spare as Hales made 83 not out from just 52 deliveries

By James Jose

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Alex Hales of Desert Vipers plays a shot during the match against the Sharjah Warriors at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday. — Supplied photo
Alex Hales of Desert Vipers plays a shot during the match against the Sharjah Warriors at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday. — Supplied photo

Published: Sun 15 Jan 2023, 10:17 PM

Last updated: Sun 15 Jan 2023, 10:18 PM

As far as redemption stories go, Alex Hales’ tale must rank somewhere high up there. After being in the wilderness for about three years, the 34-year-old is making the most of his second chance.

A starring role in the T20 World Cup in Australia, especially in the semifinal against India at Adelaide, was definitely one for the highlight reel.

Since then, Hales has had a good run with Sydney Thunder in Australia's Big Bash League. And on Sunday at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Hales wrote another page on his return journey.

He served up the highest individual score of the inaugural DP World International League T20 (ILT20) to lead Desert Vipers’ successful chase against the Sharjah Warriors.

His sublime 83 not out from just 52 deliveries with nine boundaries and three boundaries provided the spark as the Vipers’ venomous bite saw Sharjah Warriors succumb to a seven-wicket defeat.

Faced with a modest chase of 146, the Vipers waltzed home with 20 deliveries to spare.

Hales and his English mate Sam Billings were involved in a match-winning 128-run alliance for the third wicket after they had lost opener, UAE all-rounder Rohan Mustafa, and their captain Colin Munro.

Billings was unlucky to miss out on a half-century, falling after a well-crafted 49 from 38 balls that had four fours and a six.

The Warriors are now left to pick up the pieces with this being their second loss.

“It is an awesome start to the tournament,” Hales said at the post-match presentation.

“We bowled really well to restrict them to 145. I just wanted to be busy, tried to use my feet and luckily it worked. We just wanted to be busy, play good shots. We were lucky there was not a lot of scoreboard pressure,” he added.

Meanwhile, Munro said: “We were strong with the new ball and the intensity in the field was great. We have a great experience around the group. I take the easy way out and let them do their job. Hales and Billings were outstanding.”

Earlier, Sharjah Warriors spluttered after being told to take first dig on the surface by Munro. Moeen Ali’s side seemed to be heading nowhere after being reduced to 68 for 5 in 11 overs, despite a 15-ball 22 by Afghan opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz.

West Indian left-arm pacer Sheldon Cottrell saw the back of countryman and opener Evin Lewis for nought before Surrey pacer Gus Atkinson snuffed out Gurbaz who was looking dangerous.

Englishman Tom Kohler-Cadmore was then gobbled up by UAE all-rounder Mustafa off Tom Curran to leave the Warriors three down for 38, with three deliveries left in the powerplay.

Moeen was kept in check before Curran took an outstanding catch at midwicket, off left-arm pacer Tymal Mills to send the southpaw back on his way after a 16-ball 18 that had just a lone boundary.

Dawid Malan, who is eyeing a spot in the England 50-over team as they embark on their World Cup title defence in India in October-November, was looking good after hitting two boundaries — off Cottrell and Atkinson — despite being dropped on one by Sherfane Rutherford at backward point.

But Malan, former the No.1 ranked batter in the format, was cramped for room and holed out to Alex Hales in the deep off Benny Howell.

With Malan gone, the writing was clearly on the wall for Sharjah. Former Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi and Englishman Joe Denly went about resuscitating the innings to revive the Warriors to a total which had been unlikely before.

Nabi struck an unbeaten 34 from 23 deliveries that had two sixes and a boundary, while Denly came up with a 33-ball 36 with three boundaries.

Mills, Howell, Atkinson, Cottrell and Curran took a wicket each.

The Desert Vipers too found themselves precariously placed in their chase after losing two wickets for 15 — those of opener Mustafa and captain Munro.

Mustafa, who was beaten by Moeen off the second ball, went on to reverse sweep the off-spinner for consecutive boundaries.

But it was the bowler who would have the last laugh as the UAE batsman, who played to the field and smashed it straight down Chris Woakes who took the catch at deep square leg.

Hales and Billings ensured there were no more blips or hiccups though and took them home quite comfortably. Although Billings was not there to finish it off, top-edging UAE pacer Junaid Siddique to Naveen-ul-Haq, who charged in from midwicket to swallow the offering, the Vipers had the end in sight.

The Dubai Capitals, who played the tournament opener, square off against the Gulf Giants in Dubai on Monday.

The Sharjah Warriors, meanwhile, will hope that a change of venue will have a change in their fortunes when they go up against the ominous looking MI Emirates in Sharjah on Tuesday.


Desert Vipers beat Sharjah Warriors by 7 wickets

Sharjah Warriors: 145-5 (Joe Denly 36 not out, Mohammad Nabi 34 not out, Rahmanullah Gurbaz 22; Tymal Mills 1-11)

Desert Vipers: 148-3 in 16.4 overs (Alex Hales 83 not out, Sam Billings 49)


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

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