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Northern Warriors – Defenders pull off a three-run win through an intensely fought fifth match in the AJMAN T20 CUP

UAE: Northern Warriors – Defenders fought tooth and nail and defended their impressive total of 174 for 8 to win by three runs over Deccan Gladiators MGM in the fifth match of the AJMAN T20 CUP at Malek Stadium on Tuesday night. 

This T20 thriller had everything on display. It had Northern Warriors – Defenders’ right-arm pacer Taimoor Bhatti’s brilliant display of accurate pace bowling that wiped away the top order of the Deccan Gladiators – MGM in the first over.  This was followed by a spectacular and determined batting from Deccan Gladiators – MGM’s Waqas Ali, who cracked an unbeaten 69 off 45 balls with four boundaries and four sixes, which ended in vain. The game hung in balance till the last ball was bowled.

Northern Warriors – Defenders had won the toss and elected to bat. In the third over, opener Imran Od got caught by Waqas Ali at third man off Deccan Gladiators – MGM’s
deadly pacer Danish Qureshi for 8. Opener Sandeep Singh and Yasir Kaleem took charge and went for their shots. They took the score to 81 in 8.6 overs before Sandeep Singh, who was stroking beautifully, got caught by Ahmad Shafiq at long-off off Adeel Malik for 35.  His knock off 27 balls had four boundaries and a six.

Farhan Babar, who joined Yasir Kaleem, got bowled by Ansar Khan for 13.  Wajid Khan and Kaleem took the score past the 100-run mark before Wajid pulled Ansar Khan into the hands of Hassan Khan for 10. Seven runs later, Yasir Kaleem hit high over covers and was brilliantly caught by a tumbling Waqas Ali at the deep off Saifullah Noor for 40. His 28-ball knock had five boundaries.

Rizwan Amanat hit a quick 15 before he got caught by team owner Malik Ghulam Mustafa (MGM) at short third man off Ahmad Shafiq. Saifullah Noor went on to clean bowl Taimoor Bhatti for 2. Salman Babar who chipped in with 18 runs got run out and in the end Northern Warriors – Defenders posted an impressive 174 for 8.

Chasing the score, Deccan Gladiators – MGM got off to a shocking start when opener Ansar Khan got caught by Wajid Khan at covers off Taimoor Bhatti for 2 in the second ball of the first over. Taimoor also clean bowled one-drop Hassan Khan for a duck with the fifth ball. Off the sixth ball, Taimoor then clean bowled Mayank Chaudhry for a duck.

Rahul Chopra, who joined opener Hameed Khan, took the score to 41 in 4.1 overs before Hammed Khan going for a hit over mid-off top edged and got caught by wicketkeeper Yasir Kaleem for 21.

Then Rahul Chopra and Waqas Ali began stroking confidently. They picked the gaps well and took the total to 97 for 4 by the half way mark. Another 78 runs were needed from the last ten overs. Chopra looked set for his half century when, on 45, he mistimed his shot and got caught by Salman Babar off Karnal Zahid. Skipper Adeel Malik joined Waqas Ali who raced past his half century.

With 29 runs needed off the last two overs, Malik hit two consecutive boundaries off Karnal Zahid. Now 19 runs were required from the last over. Salman Babar began the death over with a dot ball, no run was scored off the second delivery, and two runs came off the third ball. Waqas Ali hit the fourth ball for a six, which meant 11 runs were required off the last two balls. Waqas hit the fifth ball also for a six. Unfortunately, he was unable to hit a six off the last ball and they Deccan Gladiators-MGM lost the match by three runs. Waqas remained unconquered on 69, while Malik remained unbeaten on 13.

Speaking about the deadly first over spell, especially when he was able to generate tremendous pace from a short-run up, Taimoor Bhatti, who won the Man of the Match award said: “I always had a short run-up, and unlike fast bowlers who take long strides I am able to generate good pace. What matters is that we all bowled well to win this tight match.”

Brief scores:
Northern Warriors – Defenders bt Deccan Gladiators – MGM by three wickets.  Northern Warriors – Defenders 174 for 8 in 20 overs (Sandeep Singh 35, Yasir Kaleem 40, Saifullah Noor 2 for 51, Ansar Khan 2 for 27)  Deccan Gladiators _ MGM 171 for 5 in 20 overs (Hameed Khan 21, Rahul Chopra 45, Waqas Ali 69n.o. Taimoor Bhatti 3 for 24) Man of the Match: Taimoor Bhatti

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