2017 T10 League, Final Day round-up: Eoin Morgan's successive fifties propel Kerala Kings to the title
Having defeated Punjabi Legends on Saturday to book a place in the semifinals, Maratha Arabians locked horns with Kerala Kings in the first knockout clash. Batting first at the famous Sharjah Cricket Stadium, they struggled to come to terms with the consistent threat posed by Sohail Tanvir, Liam Plunkett and Wahab Riaz.
With icon player as well as original captain Virender Sehwag not taking the field, the Arabians were led by Imad Wasim. The Pakistani all-rounder combined with Dwayne Bravo to take the team total to within three runs of the 100-mark. Tanvir picked up three wickets whilst conceding just 12 runs from his quota of 12 deliveries.
Riding on skipper Eoin Morgan's calculated knock, Kerala Kings cruised to the target in the final over of the match. The England batsman compiled 53 runs from 32 balls and anchored the tricky run-chase to perfection. Bravo's parsimonious spell only managed to delay the inevitable.
Brief Scores: Maratha Arabians - 97/9 [Dwayne Bravo 27 (19), Sohail Tanvir 3/12, Rayad Emrit 2/16, Wahab Riaz 1/8]; Kerala Kings - 98/5 from 9.1 overs [Eoin Morgan 53 (32), Zahoor Khan 1/14, Imad Wasim 1/17, Dwayne Bravo 0/9]
Result - Kerala Kings won by five wickets with five balls remaining
In the second semifinal, Pakhtoons squared off against Punjabi Legends. Skipper and icon player Shahid Afridi surprisingly opted to bat first. Nevertheless, he led from the front by hammering a 17-ball 41. The ultimate entertainer showed glimpses of his flamboyance to delight the spectators.
Opener Ahmed Shehzad took over the mantle from a free-spirited cameo from Tamim Iqbal. The popular right-hander top-scored with a half-century and helped Pakhtoons reach 129 for the loss of just four wickets from their ten overs.
Chasing a tricky target, Luke Ronchi and Umar Akmal got Punjabi Legends off to a rapid start. When the Pakistani batsman departed for a 5-ball 17, the New Zealand gloveman found a suitable ally in the experience of Shoaib Malik. The duo put Pakhtoons' bowlers to the sword and delivered a comprehensive victory for their team.
Brief Scores: Pakhtoons - 129/4 [Ahmed Shehzad 58 (29), Shahid Afridi 41 (17), Ravi Bopara 2/21, Dawlat Zadran 2/32]; Punjabi Legends - 132/1 from 9.1 overs [Luke Ronchi 60* (34), Shoaib Malik 48* (17), Umar Gul 1/31]
Result - Punjabi Legends won by nine wickets with five balls remaining
Fresh off clinical triumphs in their respective semifinals, Kerala Kings and Punjabi Legends competed in the summit clash. The latter were inserted to bat after their skipper Misbah-ul-Haq lost the toss. Ronchi picked up from where he left off in the semifinal and bludgeoned a sublime 70 at a strike-rate of over 200. His second-wicket partnership with Malik led the Legends to a fairly competitive total of 120.
Continuing his splendid form from the previous match, Morgan once again led from the front. He reeled off six towering sixes to make a mockery of the pressure-ridden run-chase. The southpaw was complemented by Paul Stirling who remained unbeaten with a fifty. The Ireland all-rounder contributed five sixes of his own to the team's cause.
Kerala Kings sauntered to the target with two overs to spare and became the inaugural champions of the T10 Cricket League. With five wickets apiece, Sohail Tanvir jointly topped the bowling charts for the tournament alongside the likes of Rayad Emrit and Hasan Ali. Meanwhile, Ronchi's cumulative tally of 197 runs enabled him to finish the competition as the leading run-scorer.
Brief Scores: Punjabi Legends - 120/3 [Luke Ronchi 70 (34), Shoaib Malik 26 (14), Liam Plunkett 1/19, Sohail Tanvir 0/18]; Kerala Kings - 121/2 from 8 overs [Eoin Morgan 63 (21), Paul Stirling 52* (23), Hasan Ali 1/23, Chris Jordan 0/16]
Result - Kerala Kings won by eight wickets with 12 balls remaining and clinched the title