Azam Khan hit the fastest half century in the history of DP World ILT20 to lift Desert Vipers to a six-wicket win over Gulf Giants in Dubai.
Khan remained unconquered on 50 off 20 balls and along with his skipper Colin Munro, who scored 51 off 36 balls, won the match with 19 balls to spare.
Vipers won the toss and elected to bowl. Gulf Giants opener and captain James Vince fell to the fifth ball of the first over and the first delivery he faced from Mohammad Amir, edging to wicketkeeper Khan. The consistent Lynn and opener Jamie Smith took the score to 46 by the seventh over when Matheesha Pathirana, through a bouncer, got Smith to top edge his pull to Hasaranga at midwicket for 15. Hasaranga then struck with the ball to have Lynn sweep into the hands of Pathirana for 31. At the half way mark, the scoreboard read only 58 for 3.
The fourth wicket fell at the score of 65 when the dangerous Usman Khan, who went for a slog sweep, top-edged Rohan Mustafa at mid-wicket off Hasaranga for just 10. Cox kept the score moving through a knock of 26 but Amir had him caught behind. Half the side was back in the dug-out with their score still not past the 100-run mark. Erasmus hit Pathirana for 13 runs in the 16th over but fell to the last ball of that over clean bowled by an accurate yorker for 18. Hetmyer, through some giant hits, took the score to ten runs more than the 150 mark.
Gulf Giants had posted 160 for 7 in 20 overs through Chris Lynn’s 31, Jordan Cox’s 26, and Shimron Hetmyer breezy unbeaten 40 off 23 balls with five boundaries and one six. Mohammad Amir bowled brilliantly to check the run flow with a spell of 3 for 34, backed by Wanindu Hasaranga (2 for 15) and Matheesha Pathirana (2 for 38).
Khan, who took home the player of the match, said: “I enjoyed the knock and I knew I would be able to win the match at any point of time. I am very happy about it. When you bat in the middle, you cannot be consistent all the time, but what matters is the strike rate. If my strike rate is good, it is good for my team too.
"Each win is good for the confidence of the team. I also feel motivated when the crowd is cheering. The more one practices, the better one becomes, and you’ve got to have confidence in yourself. This tournament is good for the Pakistan players as they are performing so well in this great league. It is also good for their careers as many are going for the PSL.”
Representing the Gulf Giants, Hetmeyer said: “It was a defendable total, but we did not get early wickets and that made it harder for us. We can still qualify as we have four more matches. What has happened in the past has gone and we need to think about the matches to come. We will take one at a time and do our best and win the four matches.”
This victory helped Vipers to move to the third slot in the points table while defending champions Giants slipped to the bottom of the table.
Gulf Giants 160 for 7 in 20 overs (Chris Lynn 31, Jordan Cox 26, Shimron Hetmyer 40n.o, Mohammad Amir 3 for 34, Wanindu Hasaranga 2 for 15, Matheesha Pathirana 2 for 38)
Desert Vipers 161 for 4 in 16.5 overs (Alex Hales 44, Colin Munro 51, Azam Khan 50n.o, Zuhaib Zubair 2 for 49)