W, 0, W, 0, W: Mohammad Amir turns back the clock with devastating T10 League spell

Former Pakistan left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir displayed the qualities that had once hailed him as one of the world’s best demolishers of batting line-ups to produce a spell of four wickets for just seven runs to wreck Chennai Braves’ batting. His spell restricted Chennai to 75 for 9 and secured New York Strikers a five-wicket victory in the 23rd match of the Abu Dhabi T10 at the Zayed Cricket Stadium. With the win, the Strikers regained the top spot with 10 points. The New York Strikers also got off to a shaky start, losing three wickets for 30 runs, but Asif Ali through an unbeaten 23 secured their victory with nine balls to spare. Sam Cook and Junaid Siddique’s efforts with two wickets each went in vain.

Earlier, New York Strikers won the toss and elected to bowl. Chennai, who had lost their previous match to Deccan Gladiators, brought a different opening combination George Munsey opens the batting along with Kobe Herft. Munsey picked a boundary off the last ball of the first over from Akeal Hosein for square leg.

Herft got a run out to the first ball of the second over through a quick direct throw by Mohammad Amir at the bowling end. Munsey followed in the next ball which was caught behind by the wicketkeeper Rahmanullah Gurbaz off Amir for 6. Amir also had two-drop Bhanuka Rajapaksa caught behind off the fourth ball for a duck. Worse was to follow when Amir struck with the last ball of the second over, forcing Charith Aslanka to be caught behind for a duck. He produced a maiden wicket that saw Chennai reeling with four wickets down for just six runs.

Jason Roy and Sikandar Raza then the damage repair began. But Hosein bowled tight and gave away just six runs from the third over. Roy picked a boundary to point backwards Sunil Narineis fourth over but that’s all he could get. Chamika Karunaratne, who bowled the fifth over, was hit for a six by Sikandar Raza over extra cover. At the halfway point, Chennai’s score was 32 for 4.

With the half remaining in the dugout, Sunil had Narine Raza on the 14 edge and gave wicketkeeper Gurbaz his fourth catch. Mohammad Nabiwho joined Roy, escaped being caught by Narine at slip off Muhammad Jawadullah in short, third person. He celebrated his luck by hitting Jawadullah’s last ball in the seventh over for six over long-off.

Amir took his fourth wicket in the eighth over by clean bowling Roy, who bowled over the line in the 18th. Jawadullah continued to remove Nabi in the ninth over by forcing him to cut straight into the hands of Narine at third man in the 13th.

In the last over, Kai Smith was run out for 3 but UAE’s Aayan Afzal Khan smashed Odean Smith for two limits. In the end, he was run out to the last ball of the innings for 13. Chennai paid the price for a poor start and could only muster 75 for 9.

The New York Strikers got their chase off to a shocking start. Sam Cook dismissed opener Niroshan Dickwella to the first ball of the innings by having him top edge to Junaid Siddique. With the third delivery, Cook also forced the consistent Gurbaz to play on his wicket for a duck.

Muhammad Waseem hit Siddique for six off the second ball in the second over to over mid-wicket, but only eight runs came from that over. Mark Deyal hit Cook’s first ball of the third over through the gap for a boundary. Waseem also picked another boundary past short fine leg off Cook’s fourth delivery. He also did not spare Nabi who was hit to fine leg for a boundary.

Nabi struck with the fifth ball to have Waseem caught at long-on by Sikandar Raza for 18. The intense battle to gain control of the match continued with Asif Ali joining Deyal.

In the fifth over, Deyal took a boundary past the wicketkeeper while Ali hit a six to deep midwicket to ease New York’s stress. Still, 33 runs were needed off the last five overs. Nabi bowled a barely six over where he gave away only singles off all the deliveries. Deyal mistimed a pull into the hands of Raza off Siddique for 19.

With the run-a-ball 20 runs required to win, Odean Smith hit Siddique for a six to long-off but perished to the next ball which was caught by Afzal Khan at gully. Skipper Pollard and Ali took the team to the target with Pollard hitting the winning boundary off McCoy to remain unbeaten on 9. Ali remained unbeaten on 23 to win the match with nine balls to spare.

(With ANI inputs)

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