T10 Cricket League 2018 Final, Pakhtoons vs Northern Warriors: In the finals of the T10 league it was the Northern Warriors who emerged victorious against the Pakhtoons in a thrilling finale.
The side with the largest Caribbean contingent in the competition were indebted to Chris Green’s miserly spell of two for 11 from two overs as they beat Pakhtoons by 22 runs at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Given the high-scoring nature of the final, Green’s thriftiness was decisive. Pakhtoons had begun their pursuit of 141 to win optimistically, with opener Andre Fletcher striking the ball as crisply as he had throughout a tournament that had been a personal triumph for him. But when Green dismissed him, it drained the impetus from the chase.
Crowds of thousands had lined the streets outside the stadium more than three hours before the start of the final, with the stands inside already mostly full.
Before the gates had even opened, lines of supporters had snaked around the patch of land behind the petrol station, where the access route to the northern end of the ground is.
This being a national holiday, and with admission free to the two stands at that end of the ground, the mass of people was perhaps predictable.
Yes, there was a third-place playoff that preceded the final – which was won by Bengal Tigers against Maratha Arabians – but it was clear who the vast majority were there to see. The most visible shirt was the yellow of Pakhtoons – and, more pertinently, Shahid Afridi.
Afridi was successful in his first task for the evening. He won the toss, and gave Northern Warriors first use.
Chasing has been the preference for most captains on winning the toss in this tournament, but it still must be a daunting prospect when immediately faced with openers like Nicholas Pooran and Lendl Simmons.
Pooran has been in extraordinary form in this tournament. He came into the final with more runs than anyone else, and a strike-rate of 250.
His stay was only mercifully brief this time, but once he went for 18 from 10 balls, that merely opened the way for the power-hitting of Rovman Powell and Andre Russell.
Russell made 38 in just 12 balls, and was particularly savage on Liam Dawson, taking the Englishman’s first over for 27. One six would have endangered those still milling around on the road adjacent to the ground, while he also drilled a four straight back that knocked the bowler off his feet.
Powell was not out on 61 at the end of the 10 overs, and he hit the last ball of the innings for four to lift the Warriors to 120 for three.
Fletcher set off with full force, but fell to Green when he was adeptly caught by Khary Pierre running in from the long off boundary. That was the seminal moment.
Afridi, as is his wont, railed against the inevitable, hitting two sixes in a whirlwind seven-ball stay at the crease.
But when he was castled by a pumped-up Hardus Viljoen – which nearly sparked a confrontation between the two of them – it marked the end of Pakhtoons chances.