Chadwick Walton took centre stage as Maratha Arabians etched their name on the T10 trophy for the first time at a buzzing Zayed Cricket Stadium on Sunday night.
The Jamaican wicketkeeper had scarcely been called on in the Aldar Properties Abu Dhabi T10 till this point. But, when the spotlight was at its brightest, Walton shone. First by playing a significant part in a hat-trick of run outs in the field. And then by playing the defining innings as the Arabians beat Deccan Gladiators by eight wickets in the final.
His innings of 51 from 26 deliveries was remarkable for the fact he had accrued a mere 43 runs in the seven matches leading up to the final.
That was mostly because the Arabians had only really required Chris Lynn, and not much else, as they razed the competition so far.
Even Lynn could not keep up with Walton in the final, though. The West Indian hit the first three balls of their pursuit of 88 to win for 14, and he did not look back.
He was at the wicket when victory was sealed in style by Najibullah Zadran, who hit the second ball of the eight over into the packed crowd on the bank at square leg, to start the victory celebrations.
The crushing nature of the Arabians’ performance was a fitting end to a tournament in which they were unquestionably the outstanding team.
After breezing through to the final via a play-off against Qalandars a day earlier, captain Dwayne Bravo had termed his side the most dominant in the competition. But he warned that counted for nothing yet.
“We have played throughout this tournament with a lot of pride and heart,” Bravo had said.
“We play fair, and we were the most dominant side, as you can see from the points standing, and as the first team through to the final.
“Sometimes you can be the best team in the tournament, but not win the title.”
Any nerves he might have been feeling will have quickly dispersed after Lynn – who has done the toss on Bravo’s behalf during this tournament for reasons of superstition – inserted the Gladiators.
The Arabians made a fine start, dismissing both the box office openers, Mohammed Shahzad and Shane Watson, within the first two overs.
First, Mitchell McClenaghan had Watson caught for one at deep backward square-leg, before Shahzad chipped Lasith Malinga up to mid-wicket, having raced to 14 in seven balls.
They reinforced their advantage when Dan Lawrence and Kieron Pollard each fell for single-figure scores.
The Gladiators were fielding two UAE-based players, and the least known of those – uncapped Asif Khan – finished as their top scorer.
His innings of 25 not out held the innings together, and meant his bowlers would at least have something to defend.
The end to their 10 overs was even more dismal than the start, though.
Walton affected two runs outs from behind the stumps, first throwing down the wickets at his end to dismiss Ben Cutting with his gloves still on as the Gladiators tried to steal a bye.
He repeated the trick off the next ball, albeit at the bowler's end, as his throw beat Migael Pretorius.
And then, off the last ball of the innings, he collected Dasun Shanaka’s throw from the deep to run out Fawad Ahmed.
As soon as he had swapped his keeping pads for batting ones, Walton’s intentions were clear, as he and Chris Lynn took the first over of the chase, bowled by Ahmed, for 17.
Their striking was just what was required to get the supporters’ minds back on the game.
The 20,352 crowd had been rapt by the mid-innings entertainment, and they were buzzing throughout on a fine night for cricket in the capital.
After the fast start to the chase, the Arabians were in cruise mode.
Even though Lynn and Adam Lyth did not reprise the excellence that had seen their side to the final, the Arabians still eased to the win with 16 deliveries to spare.