Capricorn Commanders made a late comeback to secure an unlikely victory against Sagittarius Strikers in a thriller that went down to final delivery of the match to seal their first win of the campaign. Gilchrist’s fine half-century looked set to hand Strikers their second win in a row but a superb 16th over bowled by Jeetan Patel and an equally brilliant final over by Abdul Razzaq ensured the crowd had all their money worth.
Chasing the target of 147 set by the Commanders, Gilchrist’s men looked well in command with the Australian playing a captain’s knock of 57 from 46 balls. But Patel’s final over, in which he picked up the wickets of Jonathan Trott at first, and then Gilchrist, changed the fate of the match with Strikers ending three runs short in spite of a late blitz by Yasir Arafat and Michael Carberry.
Commanders’ par score
Strikers headed into the contest without Shane Bond, their match-winner in the victory over Virgo Super Kings on Friday, with Gilchrist suggesting that he was being rested for the latter stages of the tournament. It was Commanders’ skipper Paul Collingwood who won the toss and he decided to bat first with the hopes of putting on a much-improved batting display after scoring only 130 in reply to a target of 157 runs set by Leo Lions in their first match.
South African Ashwell Prince and Australia’s Andrew Symonds opened the innings for Commanders yet again and started out patiently scoring 44 runs off the mandatory six overs of powerplay. Symonds’ efforts to step up the score was ended by compatriot Nathan Hauritz who also accounted for Prince in his next over.
Collingwood too fell soon after failing to get to back to the crease in time following his attempts to sneak a quick leg-bye. That wicket meant all-rounder Abdul Razzaq came into the middle to join his countryman Saleem Elahi who played contrasting innings, to say the least.
While Elahi played the sheet anchor's role for Collingwood's men, it was his countryman Abdul Razzaq who provided the much-needed impetus to the Commanders’ innings later on with a knock of 39 from 25 balls. Elahi, in fact, scored his 43 runs at less than a run a ball and was guilty of contributing to what looked like a below par score at the time.
To add insult to injury, Rory Kleinveldt found himself heading back to the pavilion even after smashing the ball to the mid-wicket boundary as he had stepped on to the stumps in the process of hitting the six. Commanders ended their innings at 146/5, a score they would not have been thrilled about.
Strikers’ Razzaq-hit reply
The Strikers, however, got off to the worst possible start losing Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene for a first-ball duck. They could have been in further trouble had Gareth Berg held on to a chance at mid-wicket to dismiss Gilchrist, but it ended up horribly for the fielder after he needed to be substituted following a freakish fall.
Gilchrist made the most of the opportunity notching up a half-century while also sharing a 69-run partnership for the second wicket with Yasir Hameed. Trott struggled to rotate the strike around and the double blow of Gilchrist and Trott in the 16th over meant the game had turned on its head.
Another twist followed with the next over bowled by Kleinveldt fetching 18 runs. With just 9 runs needed off the final over, Collingowood tossed the ball to Razzaq, who put in all his experience to good use, mixing the pace up to decieve the batsmen, giving Commanders a victory by 3 runs.
Brief Scores: Capricorn Commanders (toss) 146/5 off 20 overs (Saleem Elahi 43*, Abdul Razzaq 39, Nathan Hauritz 2/20) beat Sagittarius Strikers 143/6 off 20 overs (Gilchrist 57, Yasir Hameed 32, Patel 2/19) by 3 runs.