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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

T10 League: Irish flair powers Kerala Kings to inaugural title under Sharjah lights

Captain Eoin Morgan and Paul Stirling hit blistering fifties as team representing Indian state beat Punjabi Legends in front of packed Sharjah Cricket Stadium

England imited overs captain Eoin Morgan, right, led Kerala Kings to the T10 League title in the inaugural edition. Francois Nel / Getty Images
England imited overs captain Eoin Morgan, right, led Kerala Kings to the T10 League title in the inaugural edition. Francois Nel / Getty Images

A pair of Irishmen combined to guide a franchise owned by a perfume tycoon from Yemen which nominally represents an Indian state to the first T10 League title at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Eoin Morgan and Paul Stirling each posted half-centuries as Kerala Kings required a mere eight overs to chase down the 121 they needed to win the first 10-over final against Punjabi Legends.

Brutal hitting was more or less a given in this tournament, but it reached a crescendo on the final night of the four-day competition, as Morgan hit 63 off 21 balls. That included one six that travelled 113 metres.

Stirling, fittingly, given his excellence throughout the competition, was at the wicket as victory was sealed, via a wide, with 12 balls left.

Luke Ronchi chose the final to post the highest individual score of the tournament, hitting five sixes in an innings of 70 that took him just 34 balls. That lifted Punjabi Legends to 120-3. But it was never enough.

While the semi-finals were still going on, the two bigscreens at the stadium proudly flashed up the message: “House full, thank you Sharjah fans.”

The attendance figure was later confirmed as 15,213, which is a sizeable figure given both the newness of the event and the fact this was a work-night.

The crowd thinned out only slightly when Shahid Afridi’s team, the Pakhtoons, were knocked out in the penultimate match by Punjabi Legends, but it was clearly not the popular vote.

The Pakhtoons had won all three of their matches until that point, and it seemed written that Afridi, the man the vast majority of supporters flock to Sharjah to see, would be there till the end – right down to the fact he wears No 10 on his back.

The side in yellow seemed to have posted a commanding total at halfway, with Ahmed Shahzad’s 29-ball 58 laying the platform for 129-4. Afridi himself hit five sixes in his innings of 41 from 17 balls.

Ronchi and Malik were the party-spoilers, though, sharing a savage unbroken alliance worth 100 in 40 balls, to cruise to 132 with five balls to spare.

In the other semi-final, Kerala Kings dominated Maratha Arabians with the most incisive bowling performance in the competition.

The Arabians were six wickets down within 4.4 overs, thanks to Sohail Tanvir, Liam Plunkett and Wahab Riaz. They recovered to post 97-9, but Kerala captain Morgan made light work of the chase, with 53 in 32 balls.

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