'Universe Boss' Chris Gayle finally made his presence felt with a whirlwind 22-ball 84 as Team Abu Dhabi crushed defending champions Maratha Arabians in the Abu Dhabi T10 at the Zayed Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.
Gayle smashed nine sixes and six fours, and reached his half century in 12 balls which equalled the fastest fifty in the format.
“The youngsters in the team wanted to see some Gayle stuff,” the West Indies opener said after taking his side over the line by nine wickets and with 27 balls to spare chasing 98.
“They actually have seen Gayle but rather not seen live. It was good to be among runs and the youngsters in the team could actually see me and capture some things.
“From [Kumar] Sangakkara, the legend, I have to give credit to him as well. He mentioned a few things on my batting and I was alert for that.”
It was Abu Dhabi’s second win in the competition and their captain Luke Wright believes the momentum is with them.
“We all know that he [Gayle] is an asset to any side when he keeps going like that,” he said.
“The bowlers played their part but Chris finding form was crucial for us. Hopefully he can continue that and we can keep winning.”
The Arabians provided young UAE batsman Alishan Sharafu, 18, and spinner Maroof Merchant, 16, an opportunity to be in the limelight.
Sharafu opened the innings and after playing out a maiden over off paceman Tom Helm, he went on to score a 23-ball 33 that included three sixes and a couple of fours.
His first scoring shot, from the seventh ball he faced, was a hit over the long-on fence off his senior UAE teammate Rohan Mustafa.
“It was the managements’ decision to give the youngsters a chance and we really soaked in the experience tonight,” Sharafu said of his debut at Abu Dhabi T10.
Earlier, Qalandars beat Bangla Tigers by seven runs for their fifth win in the competition.
Chris Jordan bowled an excellent penultimate over conceding two runs and claiming a wicket to leave the Tigers needing 21 to win from young Mohammed Zahid’s final over.
Zahid made a perfect start when he had the in-form Tom Moores trapped in front for 39 from his first delivery.
The next three were despatched for four, two and six by Qais Ahmed but that was as close he got. A dot ball left the Tigers with an impossible task of nine to win from the final delivery.
“Zahid is a very good bowler and an excellent talent,” Qalandars captain Sohail Akhtar said of the medium pacer.
“I was confident if we had 14-15 runs in the last over, he will defend that. Jordan was outstanding and it's great to have him.”
Jordan was the pick of the Qalandars attack, returning with 1-11 from his two overs, as his side defended 104-3.