The Northern Warriors’ title defence of the Abu Dhabi T10 got off to an inauspicious start as they were beaten by Delhi Bulls in the opening game at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium on Friday.
In a repeat of the previous final, the Bulls turned the match around and stormed to an emphatic six-wicket triumph to get their campaign off to the perfect start.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz set the Bulls run chase alight with a 10-ball blitz. Opening the innings, the Afghan wicketkeeper-batsman smashed Imran Tahir for three successive sixes, scoring 30 off 10 balls.
Tahir had his man trapped in front in the same over but not before Gurbaz had laid the foundation for Mohammed Hafeez (31) and Sherfane Rutherford (29) to take their side over the line with an over to spare.
The Warriors quick bowler Chris Jordan felt they were 10 or 20 runs short but insisted they can take the positives from their opener and bounce back in the next game.
“This is our first time and the team will gel and this being a long tournament we’ll come back tomorrow,” the England international said.
The Bulls captain Rutherford did everything right on the night. He won the toss, put the Warriors in to bat first and restricted them to 107 for four before Gurbaz’s cameo knock laid the foundation for the chase.
“That certainly provided the start we wanted and that really set up the chase,” Rutherford said.
“We were a couple of overs ahead from the start from Gulbaz. We still had to get those runs and the rest of the batting chipped in with contributions to get the win.”
For the Warriors, Moeen Ali and Rovman Powell shared a 78-run stand in 28 balls for the third wicket for Northern Warriors to post 107 for four.
Moeen hoisted two sixes and two fours in his 21-ball knock, while Powell’s 19-ball 38 included three fours and a couple of maximums.
In the second game of the night, Paul Stirling and Chris Gayle shared a 97-run stand for the third wicket for Team Abu Dhabi to get their campaign off to a winning start over Bangla Tigers.
Stirling belted half-a-dozen boundaries and five sixes in a 23-ball 59, while Gayle smashed five sixes and a couple of fours in a 23-ball 49 not out for their team to post 145 for four.
Marchant de Lange grabbed five for 23 to restrict the Tigers to 105 for eight to guide his side to a 40-run triumph.
“On the night, it worked out well for me,” De Lange said after receiving the player of the match award.
“You know what, it’s early in the tournament and I don’t want to give away too much. I think every bowler have their plans. We got ours and we try and stick with it.”
Team Abu Dhabi captain Liam Livingstone said it was all about “backing yourself” coming into the tournament.
“We have come in to this tournament to have loads of fun and go out and back ourselves and show off. That’s what the boys did tonight, to try and take it on from ball one.
“It’s exciting to play with this group of players. It’s a great start and we're looking forward to the rest of the tournament.”