Danny Briggs’ last-ball six maintains Team Abu Dhabi’s 100% start

Team Abu Dhabi 99 for 6 (Overton 33*, Hasaranga 4-12) beat Deccan Gladiators 97 for 9 (Smith 34) by four wickets

With five needed off the last ball, Danny Briggs was facing a man who had yet to bowl a ball in the tournament, never mind the innings itself. He duly hit Anwar Ali for six to seal a third consecutive win for Team Abu Dhabi in a nail-biting encounter against Deccan Gladiators at the Zayed Cricket Ground. Yet, that was just the final act of a dramatic contest that went down to the wire.

“I was just thinking about getting good contact on the ball and I got a top edge which went high and luckily for me, just long enough,” Briggs said afterwards.

Long enough by just a whisker. Hamid Hassan had steamed in to Jamie Overton for the penultimate delivery, before pulling up and having to limp off, leaving Wahab Riaz to turn to his countryman Anwar. It was Anwar’s first ball of this year’s T10 and his length delivery was met with a top edge from Briggs which flew off the bat and towards the fine leg boundary where none other than Andre Russell was placed. Russell had starred with the bat in Deccan’s win on Saturday, but was dismissed for a golden duck earlier and bowled a costly ninth over which went for 17. Yet, perhaps, this was his moment to be a hero again…

The ball seemed for all it’s worth to be sailing over the boundary and into the Team Abu Dhabi dugout, but Russell leapt and somehow flicked it back in. The ground held its breath to see whether the West Indian was in contact with the boundary cushion. No one, not even Russell, really had an inkling as to who had won. It was agonisingly tight, before replays indicated that his heel was barely touching the rope at the moment he made contact with the ball. Paul Baldwin, the TV umpire, confirmed to Nigel Llong, the on-field umpire, to raise his arms and confirm that it was six.

A chase of 98 should have been straightforward. Especially considering the fact that Liam Livingstone’s outfit had breezed to scores of 145 and 132 in their first two matches of the tournament.

But they had yet to deal with the magic of Wanindu Hasaranga. Livingstone, who had seen his England counterparts struggle to pick the Sri Lankan during the T20 World Cup, had breezed to 17 off seven deliveries when Hasaranga came into the attack. Fresh from blasting 30 off 18 with the bat to rescue the Gladiators from 18 for 5, Hasaranga now had the ball in hand.

Livingstone was welcomed with a tossed-up delivery that he top-edged into the Abu Dhabi sky. But, the Gladiators wicketkeeper Tom Moores failed to get anywhere near it. Two balls later, Hasaranga tempted the Englishman yet again and Livingstone again tried to hit him out of the ground. Instead he skied it straight to long-on and with the captain, Phil Salt and Paul Stirling all back in the hutch and no Chris Gayle, the Gladiators had every chance of becoming the first side in T10 history to defend a total of fewer than 100.

Not least when the very next ball, Colin Ingram was undone by a wrong-un and Team Abu Dhabi were four down for 44. There is no such thing as defending out the hat-trick ball in this format: Overton came to the crease to face the music and was lucky to sneak a bottom-edge to the boundary as he swept at Hasaranga.

But Hasaranga wasn’t done yet. He was fortunate to get an lbw decision in his favour against Chris Benjamin, as replays showed a clear inside-edge from the batter, but there was nothing lucky about the next ball, Marchant de Lange utterly bamboozled by a wrong-un which crashed into his stumps. Hasaranga and the Gladiators were going in for the kill.

Briggs arrived at the crease for another hat-trick ball and survived, before being beaten by a wrong-un from the Sri Lankan which narrowly missed the stumps. Both he and Overton must have breathed a sigh of relief knowing that Hasaranga had finished. The Sri Lankan ended with figures of 4 for 12 and had left the Abu Dhabi outfit reeling at 53 for 6.

Yet, despite all his heroics with the bat and the ball, it was his fielding that would ultimately prove pivotal. In the next over, Overton skied one towards Hasaranga at midwicket for a regulation catch, which the Sri Lankan failed to hold on to.

And the allrounder made him pay, as he crashed an unbeaten 33 off 18, combining with Briggs to hit 46 off the last four overs and somehow steal a victory for Team Abu Dhabi to maintain their 100% record.

“It’s still T10, you’ve still gotta go [whenever you come in],” Briggs said. “With two overs left, we said to each other that we needed a big one to get ourselves back in.”

Overton added: “We were just trying to play our way, play our strong shots, and try to take one good over. We got a good over in the ninth with Dre and then Briggsy got us over the line.”

Livingstone was beaming with joy at the way the pair rescued his side. “We were pretty much behind the game for all of our innings but I thought Jamie [Overton] played beautifully and it was great for Briggsy to hit the last one for six,” he said.

(With Inputs from ESPN)

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