Stuttering Abu Dhabi wary of Gladiators juggernaut!
Deccan Gladiators to win!
Not so long ago, Team Abu Dhabi was the unbeaten side in the season but they have suffered consecutive losses. Moeen Ali's men are on the brink of elimination as they take on the rampant Deccan Gladiators in what is a must-win game for Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi's bowling, which was considered to be crafty, has suddenly gone into freeze mode with consecutive bad outings. If Chris Lynn started it with a brutal assault, it was Andre Fletcher and Rilee Rossouw who did the damage in the previous game. Against a power-packed Gladiators side, Team Abu Dhabi have their task cut out. It's do-or-die time and they need to gather their wits.
The Gladiators started the tournament with a loss but always had the quality to bounce back and that's what they have done with three wins on the trot. With an aggressive opening combination and Kieron Pollard having joined them on Monday, there is a lot of batting firepower in the side that's got plenty of hitters in there. The bowling has also got a major boost with the inclusion of Sheldon Cottrell. Avishka Fernando produced a blistering fifty in his T10 debut and him along with Luke Wright and Moeen Ali will be crucial to the team's cause.
The return to form of Cutting (21 off 10 and 1/21) in the previous game will have boosted the team's morale. He is a crucial asset for a side that also has the big man Kieron Pollard in their middle order. But the captain Shane Watson (128 runs) continues to be the key batsman along with his opening partner Shahzad who is fresh off a blistering fifty the other day.
There is plenty of firepower and depth in the batting, while the bowling has gained strength with Cottrell's inclusion but the injury to left-arm wrist spinner Zahir Khan is a concern. He might be unavailable for this fixture and that could bring Mason Crane back into the equation.
S Watson(c), M Shahzad(wk), K Pollard, D Lawrence, B Rajapaksa, B Cutting, A Devcich, F Ahmed, M Crane/Z Khan, Zahoor Khan, S Cottrell
Following two consecutive losses where the bowlers were guilty of conceding high totals, Abu Dhabi could change their XI for this game. Moeen's men need to be smarter with the ball as they don't have enough firepower in the middle order. Avishka's inclusion gives them a more dependable opening pair with Wright (128 runs) already in good nick. Moeen hasn't really produced big scores and the skipper will want to start contributing in a more significant manner.
The bowling needs to pick up, with Ben Laughlin and Merchant de Lange waging a lone battle. Harry Gurney has had a shocking campaign so far and might be benched.
A Fernando, L Wright, M Ali(c), C Anderson, A Davies(wk), R Mustafa, L Gregory, R Gleeson, M de Lange, B Laughlin, H Walsh
Rain is predicted during the week in the UAE, starting from Wednesday. It remains to be seen whether the matches are able to be shower-free. Each day a fresh pitch is being used for the T10 matches, so expect plenty of runs. The bowlers who can mix their pace and lengths will have a better chance of stopping the run flow and/or picking wickets.
Sheikh Zayed Stadium is one of the finest stadiums in the UAE and has world-class infrastructure along with good pitches. Teams have preferred chasing but as the tournament has progressed, teams batting first have started to win more frequently. The average score batting first is gradually increasing and at the end of the fifth day of the competition, it is 111 approximately.
After the first five days, teams batting second have 7 wins, sides defending scores have 6 wins and there have been two ties. Fair to say that the toss is starting to look irrelevant because of the roller-coaster speed of the format. Sides will still love to chase but wouldn't mind being put into bat either.
Team Abu Dhabi looks like a side that's short on resources with a lot of over dependence on certain players. Individual brilliance could still get them wins but in this fixture, the Gladiators look a much stronger side with a better balance and are firm favorites.
Deccan Gladiators to win!