Stung Qalandars face Warriors challenge!
Northern Warriors to win the game!
Both teams have had contrasting routes heading into this game. While the defending champions Warriors started their title defense with a comfortable win over the Arabians, the Qalandars choked their way to a tie against Team Abu Dhabi. Malan's boys were in charge of the chase before the nerves set in towards the back end of the match.
As a result, they had to share points. The Warriors didn't have to break a sweat as they swatted aside the Arabians in a largely one-sided encounter with Dre Russ showing his full repertoire as a world-class white-ball all-rounder.
It was a clinical display by the reigning champions in their opening encounter and Andre Russell has already made a huge statement with his sensational all-round performance. After a fine bowling spell, he produced a brutal exhibition of ball-striking to make a mockery of the chase with three overs left to spare. He is clearly the backbone of this Warriors side, that does have some other hitters too but it's the big man who will have to take a large share of responsibility, particularly with the bat. They do have good enough depth in the batting though and this gives Russell extra freedom to unleash.
While Russell hogged the limelight and rightly so, the Warriors' bowling group in totality was brilliant. Wickets fell at regular intervals and they ensured that the opposition batsmen didn't run away with the game. Just five bowlers were used by skipper Darren Sammy and it tells you how perfectly the plans were executed by his resources. They do have some backup options too, just in case, but Sammy will hope that his specialists do the job more often than not. The biggest plus with the Warriors is that they seem a well-settled unit that's high on confidence.
S Billings (wk), G Munsey, A Russell, D Bravo, S Raza, A Gunaratne, C Green, A Tandon, R Emrit, N Pradeep, C Wood
Sam Billings, Ansh Tandon, RR Emrit, DJG Sammy, Christopher Green, Asela Gunaratne, George Munsey, Andre Russell, Nuwan Pradeep, Sikandar Raza, CP Wood
Qalandars will be feeling sour after their opening encounter. It was a game that was theirs to lose and although they didn't, a tie would still sting. Skipper Dawid Malan's form is a plus though, as is runs from Luke Ronchi and Philip Salt. However, closing games is an art and they would hope that this is a one-off. Choking can be contagious in such short formats and they wouldn't want this to escalate.
The Qalandars batting does have great potential and it's fair to say that they didn't play to their full power but still could have won the game.
The bowling was quite effective in the previous game except when Corey Anderson got into rampage mode. There isn't much experience in the unit and that's one thing they would be wary of but there's no doubting the caliber of players.
However, in crunch games, this lack of experience could be crucial. They had a host of Pakistan players in the squad and with their participation clouded by the recent issue around NOCs from the PCB, the team could struggle a bit. Their replacements are good enough to give the side a chance.
T Banton, L Ronchi (wk), D Malan (c), P Salt, L Evans, S Prasanna, C Jordan, J Clark, L Kumara, G Garton, S Ahmed
S Prasanna, Jordan Clark, George Garton, Lahiru Kumara, Sultan Ahmed, Tom Banton, Dawid Malan, Chris Jordan, Philip Salt, Luke Ronchi, Laurie Evans
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. It will host all matches in this T10 tournament and this will be the sixth successive game here in two days.
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.
In terms of team balance and momentum, the Warriors are firm favorites to win this clash. There is a lot of uncertainty regarding player availability in the Qalandars squad at present and all that confusion will only compound their mindset.
Northern Warriors to win the game!