ILT20: Michael Pepper's half century helps Knight Riders upset Gulf Giants

The victory takes the Knight Riders to the third slot while Giants slips to fourth

By Team KT

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Michael Pepper of Abu Dhabi Knight Riders plays a shot. — ILT20
Michael Pepper of Abu Dhabi Knight Riders plays a shot. — ILT20

Published: Wed 31 Jan 2024, 11:34 PM

England’s Michael Pepper’s 59 off 40 balls peppered with seven boundaries and three sixes steered Abu Dhabi Knight Riders, who were tottering at the bottom of the points table, to rise and outplay defending champions Gulf Giants by six wickets in the ILT20 at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

The victory takes the Knight Riders to the third slot while Giants slips to fourth.

Gulf Giants were restricted to 161 for 6 despite Chris Lynn’s 67 off 48 balls with six boundaries and three sixes. He had put on 72 runs in 58 balls for the third wicket with Jordan Cox who hit 21 off 27 balls with one boundary and a six. Lynn also added 39 runs for the fourth wicket with Usman Khan (23).

Chasing the target, Knight Riders needed a good start. Openers Joe Clarke and Pepper provided just that recording their 50 runs partnership in just 4.1 overs. Mujeeb Ur Rehman stuck in his second over to remove Clarke who was caught down the leg side by wicketkeeper Jamie Smith for 14 to end the 62 runs partnership in 6.1 overs.

Pepper raced to his half-century in 33 balls with five boundaries and three sixes. By the 10th over Knight Riders were at a commanding 100 for 1 needing another 62 runs to win.

Six runs later, Mujeeb picked his second wicket to remove Alishan Sharafu for 11. Richard Glesson forced Pepper, who went for a pull, to play on.

Laurie Evans got out to Zuhaib Zubair when Drakes took a diving catch at long-off for 6. Only 39 runs were needed off the last five overs.

When 31 runs more runs were required to win in 24 balls, rain stopped play for a while. Russell had hit a quick unbeaten 30 off just 13 balls with three sixes, and along with Sam Hain (17n.o), they ensured their team’s victory with ten balls to spare.

“We ticked a lot of boxes. Started with picking up wickets in the powerplay, it sets the tone," said Knight Riders captain Sunil Narine.

"We’re getting a bit of momentum, still a bit too close for comfort, we need to win by bigger margins. But a win is a win and we’ll take it.”

Meanwhile, man-of-the-match Pepper said that not losing wickets in the powerplay helped his team.

“It’s important to always have to take the aggressive option while batting in the powerplay," he said.

"It’s the best time to bat, pace on the ball and you have to just go for it. Not losing wickets in the powerplay is crucial.”

Gulf Giants captain James Vince, on the other hand, felt his bowlers could have done a better job.

"I thought we actually had a par score. But obviously the start wasn't ideal, with them being 60 for none inside the powerplay," he said.

"It put us behind the game, and even though we pulled it back a bit at the end it was always going to be difficult.”

Brief scores:

Abu Dhabi Knight Riders beat Gulf Giants by 6 wicket.

Gulf Giants 161 for 6 in 20 overs (Chris Lynn 67, Jordan Cox 21, Usman Khan 23, Andre Russell 2 for 39, Imad Wasim 2 for 31) Abu Dhabi Knight Riders 164 for 4 in 20 overs (Michael Pepper 59, Andre Russell 30n.o, Mujeeb Ur Rahman 2 for 31)

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