Afghanistan’s Chinaman bowler, Waqar Salamkheil, delivered not only a harsh cricketing blow but also a dose of fiery words to Sri Lanka’s all-rounder, Wanindu Hasaranga, during an intense International League T20 clash between MI Emirates and the Desert Vipers at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium. Wanindu Hasaranga endured a challenging night with the ball in the 1st innings as the home team, MI Emirates, displayed a fighting spirit, posting a formidable total of 189 despite an early top-order collapse.
Wanindu Hasaranga’s struggles mirrored those of his teammates, who faced a relentless onslaught throughout the game. Colin Munro, leading the Vipers, won the toss and opted to bowl first, inviting MI Emirates captain Nicholas Pooran to set a target on a pitch favouring batsmen.
Sri Lankan opener Kusal Perera laid the foundation with a spectacular 65 off 46 balls, but the departure of his partner Muhammad Waseem for just 7 off 6 brought some respite to the Vipers. Andre Fletcher showcased glimpses of his attacking style before falling to Nathan Sowter for 11 off 9. Ambati Rayudu, the former Mumbai Indians IPL player, contributed a decent 44 off 38 balls, including 5 fours and a six.
Following Rayudu’s dismissal, wicketkeeper-batsman Nicholas Pooran unleashed a power-packed assault on the Vipers’ bowling attack. Pooran’s blitzkrieg yielded a rapid 39 off 15 balls, striking at an astonishing rate of 260. His aggressive innings, featuring 4 sixes and 3 fours, propelled MI Emirates to a challenging total of 188.
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In the Desert Vipers’ bowling department, all bowlers faced a common fate – being battered by the MI batters. Mohammad Amir managed figures of 2/29 in his 4 overs, while Nathan Sowter, Wanindu Hasaranga, Matheesha Pathirana, and Luke Wood all leaked runs at an economy rate exceeding 7.
The most expensive bowler was Englishman Luke Wood, conceding 46 runs in his 3 overs, while Hasaranga, who managed a wicket but went for 30 runs in his 4 overs, experienced a tough outing.
During the Vipers’ second innings, the troubles escalated as UAE’s Rohan Mustafa departed early, and Alex Hales followed suit with a mere 6 runs. Colin Munro, who earlier decided to bowl first, faced a precision lbw dismissal from Fazalhaq Farooqi, who ended with impressive figures of 4/31.
The standout moment occurred during the final over of the powerplay when Wanindu Hasaranga attempted an aggressive sweep shot against Afghani left-arm wrist spinner Waqar Salamkheil. The low-bouncing delivery found the under-edge of Hasaranga’s bat, reaching the gloves of Nicholas Pooran. Salamkheil, in response, locked eyes with Hasaranga, triggering an exchange of fiery words. The Vipers ultimately succumbed to a 30-run defeat, finishing at 158/8 in 20 overs.