Deflated Gladiators look for revival against Tigers!
Bangla Tigers to win the game!
It's not often that a team loses just a solitary wicket while batting first and doesn't end up winning the game. That's what happened with the Gladiators who had seemingly got a competitive total at the halfway mark.
Their bowlers couldn't stop a rampaging Eoin Morgan and the Bulls got across the line. Watson's men will want to open their account but find themselves in slippery terrain against the Bangla Tigers who will be playing their first game of the tournament.
In hindsight, they could have gone a bit harder with the bat in their tournament opener, given the wickets they had in hand. That said, skipper Watson's form is a massive plus for them as he is going to be a key player in this tournament. Mohammad Shahzad is the other dangerous customer and the Afghan will want to make amends for his failure in the previous game. Anton Devcich would feel guilty as his knock was too slow by T10 standards and the Kiwi is another clean hitter of the ball.
There is plenty of hitting depth in the side and the Gladiators will do well to utilize them better. Watson had spoken highly about the spin trio of Mason Crane, Fawad Ahmed and Zahir Khan but only the Afghan wrist spinner as his spin partners failed to get into the wicket-taking mode.
They will be a huge factor as the tournament progresses and even in this fixture, the tweakers could be handy on a ground that's as big as this stadium is. Crane, in particular, would be raring to put in a better show after being belted around in the previous encounter. The one drawback is the lack of quality space in the Gladiators line-up.
S Watson (c), M Shahzad (wk), D Lawrence, B Cutting, A Devcich, B Rajapaksa, M Pretorius, M Crane, F Ahmed, Zahir Khan, Zahoor Khan
Ben Cutting, Zahir Khan, Dan Lawrence, Anton Devcich, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Mason Crane, Zahoor Khan, Fawad Ahmed, Migael Pretorius, M Shahzad, SR Watson
The shorter the format, the more explosion you need in batting and the Tigers seem to have taken this too seriously, having packed their side with batsmen and all-rounders. As a result, they're quite thin in terms of specialist bowlers. The batting has plenty of firepower with the likes of Colin Ingram, Rilee Rossouw, David Wiese and skipper Thisara Perera leading the way. There is a lot of depth in the batting and loads of quality hitters in there. Therefore, putting runs on the board shouldn't be much of a problem.
However, batsmen can win you matches but it's bowlers who win tournaments. And with that in mind, the Tigers do have concerns. Liam Plunkett and Qais Ahmad are the only pure bowlers in the squad, and even they aren't always reliable although the leggie is a better wicket-taker.
Many of the all-rounders are handy, be it in pace or spin, but aren't solid options. Clearly, the management didn't think much about the bowling unit while building the team. Unless they chase, this side could struggle as defending scores with their attack could be tough.
R Rossouw, A Fletcher (wk), C Ingram, T Perera (c), D Wiese, R Frylinck, S Jayasuriya, F Reza, L Plunkett, H Khan, Q Ahmad
RR Rossouw, R Frylinck, Liam Plunkett, Tom Moores, D Wiese, Colin Ingram, ADS Fletcher , Chirag Suri, Kevin Koththiigoda, Thisara Perera, Qais Ahmad
The forecast for the evening is clear in Abu Dhabi with temperatures hovering around the mid-20s or thereabout. Humidity is expected to be strictly average. The pitches are generally good for batting but the big ground dimensions, especially square of the wicket, should keep the bowlers interested as well.
Sheikh Zayed Stadium is one of the finest grounds in UAE and has been known for it's quality infrastructure.
Chasing is the best option in the shorter formats, more so in T10 unless you have a bowling attack that's high class. With dew also expected at times, captains would prefer knowing the score than setting one.
This could be a close game to call. The Gladiators are definitely the more balanced side and by that virtue, they're favorites to win this game. However, the team combination suggests that the Tigers could be good chasers. So, it's going to depend a lot on the toss.
Bangla Tigers to win the game!