A day after the Western Warriors were bowled out for 69 against Northern Strikers, Warriors’ skipper Shafiq Sharif won the toss and chose to bat first against the Central Smashers.
As has become the norm, Ahmad Zubaidi was dismissed cheaply once again after he nicked an Amirul Syahmi outswinger to Ammar Zuhdi.
Curious as to how spinners would fare on a used deck at the Kinrara, the Smashers skipper Ahmad Faiz introduced Fitri Sham into the attack in the 5th over. The left-arm spinner struck almost immediately when Saifullah Malik lobbed a simple return catch back to the bowler off a delivery that stuck in the wicket and took the leading edge of Malik’s bat.
Just as the on-air commentators started to praise the Warrior’s running between the wickets, Syed Rehmatullah called Sharvin Muniandy through for an easy single. Despite making his ground, he was adjudged run out by the umpire, who did not have the benefit of TV replays.
When Rehmatullah departed soon after with the score on 51-4 in the 9th over, it looked like the Strikers would fold for yet another paltry total on a slightly challenging deck.
Shafiq Sharif, however, was playing on a different pitch, taking the attack to leg-spinner Muhammad Shahid, who leaked 19 runs in the 12th over of the innings. Throughout a blistering knock of 62 (30), Shafiq used his feet to the spinners lifting them over the ropes in the region between long off and deep mid wicket.
The Warriors innings could be split in two with the Smashers being in the driving seat after the first 10 overs before the Warriors scored 112 from their final 10 overs. Top-scorer Sharif found a partner in developing all-rounder Dhivendran Mogan (36), with the pair combining for a partnership worth 101 runs which formed the backbone of the Warriors inning. Rashid Ahad applied the finishing touches as he finished 28*, during an innings that lasted 13 balls and consisted of 6 boundaries. The Warriors eventually finished on a highly respectable 185/7.
Moving into the second innings, the Smashers got off to a sedate start before Anwar Arudin smashed three consecutive boundaries of Dhivendran Mogan. Unfortunately, he perished the very next delivery when he skied a delivery that was wide of off stump into the hands of Ahmad Zubaidi at point. Alam Muhammad Saif and Ammar Zuhdi then kept things ticking before the run rate slowed down and Zuhdi lost his wicket with the score on 73-2 after 9 overs.
Once again, Smashers skipper Faiz looked like he was taking the game away from the opposition, pulling out his signature sweeps and slog sweeps, one of which travelled over deep mid wicket off the bowling of Sachinu Hettige. Sadly for the Smashers, he was dismissed for 27 (14) when he charged at a flatter and quicker Rashid Ahad delivery only to be stumped.
With 60 required off the last 5 overs and the run rate slowing down once again, it looked like a valiant chase would end in vain until opener Saif and Nazril Rahman upped the tempo. By the time the latter was dismissed, the equation was down 19 off 12.
With Saif struggling to find the fence in the closing stages, 5 were required off the last 3 balls and Fitri Sham was on strike. The Southpaw picked a length delivery from Rajkumar Rajendran over mid wicket for six to get his side home with a mere two balls to spare. After winning a thriller, the Smashers maintained their lead atop the Super Series table.
The next bit of action from the Malaysia T20 Super Series sees the Northern Strikers come up against the Southern Hitters on Sunday.
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