Dubai [UAE], February 13: The stage is set for an exhilarating and intense battle in the ILT20 season 2 play-offs between the teams that clinched the top four slots. The league stage matches were so fiercely fought that the final four could not be ascertained until the last league match held in Sharjah on Sunday.
All 30 league-stage matches produced the best of cricket with many last-over and last-ball finishes including a last-ball-six smashed by Sikandar Raza that put Dubai Capitals in a commanding position to make the final four ahead of Sharjah Warriors and Desert Vipers who finished at the bottom of the points table.
Cricket buffs in UAE can gear up for an exciting week of action as the top four teams gear up to produce some nail-biting contests starting with the Eliminator on Tuesday between Abu Dhabi Knight Riders and Dubai Capitals at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, followed by the Qualifier 1 between MI Emirates and Gulf Giants to be played at the Dubai International Stadium on Wednesday. Qualifier 2, between the winner of the Eliminator and the loser of Qualifier 1, will be held at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Thursday while the grand finale will be held at Dubai's 'Ring of Fire' Stadium on February 17.
The intensity of the upcoming clashes can be gauged by the fact that except for MI Emirates, who notched up 12 points from six wins, all the other teams had hit the rock bottom of the table and then fought back to qualify for the playoffs. Defending champions Gulf Giants finished second on the points table with 12 points while Abu Dhabi Knight Riders and Dubai Capitals placed third and fourth respectively with 10 points each.
The large turnout for all the matches of this edition reflected the increasing following for this tournament. Cricket lovers are in for a treat over the next few days, and they will look forward to whether Abu Dhabi Knight Riders will be able to ride to victory or whether Dubai Capitals, by capitalizing on their skills, will pull off a victory in the Eliminator. Qualifier 1 will see whether last year's winners Gulf Giants can produce their best and walk tall over MI Emirates, which has played brilliant cricket so far in this edition.
MI Emirates skipper Kieron Pollard, who has the ammunition to hit big runs, said: "Winning is a habit and so is losing. Going forward we need to try and plan well. It is a matter of planning and execution."
Gulf Giants skipper James Vince, who has shown the way through big scores, and is happy with the way his players have risen to the challenge, remarked: "Our last four games have been magnificent. The last two games, we were in the game and when our opponents were ahead in the game, we showed a lot of character to fight back." Vince will want his players to display the same fighting spirit in the play-offs.
Abu Dhabi Knight Riders skipper Sunil Narine, after a win, had said about how he goes about winning matches: "We tick a lot of boxes. Start with picking up wickets in the powerplay, and that sets the tone."
Sam Billings, skipper of the Dubai Capitals, enters the playoffs, fully aware of his team's drawbacks and strengths. After his team's last match, he'd said: "If you look at this tournament, it is about trends. The key area where we have struggled is the powerplay. As regards our bowling, everyone wants the ball and that is always a positive."
All play-offs will commence from 6.30 pm (UAE time).
Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor