Kusal Perera hopes MI Emirates will continue to enjoy support from fans after they became the first team to reach the ILT20 playoffs at a roaring Zayed Cricket Stadium.
MI Emirates stormed into the knockout stages with a resounding 30-run victory against the Desert Vipers in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
Perera top-scored with 65 off 46 balls to set up Mi Emirates’ sixth win in eight matches.
The Sri Lankan was well supported by Ambati Rayudu (44 off 38 balls) and skipper Nicholas Pooran (39 off 15 balls) as MI Emirates made 188/5.
Their bowlers then restricted the Vipers to 158 for five in 20 overs, thanks to Afghan pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi’s brilliant four-wicket haul (4-0-31-4).
“I think we got a very good score on the board. We are always looking to make the most of the powerplay. I think Rayudu and I did well to set up the foundation and bat till the 15th over, but we did very well in the death over to put up a big score, thanks to Nicholas Pooran,” Perera said.
The first match of the day was played at a packed Zayed Cricket Stadium.
“It’s always great to see so much support for our team and it motivates the players as well. Hope to see the same things for the remaining games,” he said.
The Desert Vipers’ chase never found momentum as they lost wickets at frequent intervals, including five in the powerplay.
Farooqi was the pick of the Emirates’ bowling attack with impressive figures as he dismissed Colin Munro, Adam Hose, Azam Khan and Luke Wood.
Earlier, Perera made his intent crystal clear, scoring 31 off just 18 deliveries in the first six overs despite losing the wickets of Muhammad Waseem and Andre Fletcher.
As Rayudu joined Perera, the duo constructed a formidable stand of 75 runs. Serving as the aggressor in the partnership Perera brought up his half century in just 31 deliveries. In the 16th over.
After Perera departed in the 16th over, Pooran stamped his authority from the very first ball to help the MI Emirates post a big total.
In reply, the Desert Vipers had a nightmarish start, losing four wickets in the powerplay before being reduced to 82/7.
When Wood joined UAE all-rounder Ali Naseer (63 not out), the Desert Vipers needed 107 runs in 48 deliveries.
While the Vipers ultimately fell short of the target by 30 runs, Naseer put on an exceptional display reaching his half century in 42 balls and Wood chipped in with 30 runs before he became Farooqi’s fourth scalp of the night in the final over.
MI Emirates beat Desert Vipers by 30 runs.
MI Emirates 188 for 5 in 20 overs (Kusal Perera 65, Ambati Rayudu 44, Nicholas Pooran 39, Mohd Amir 2 for 29)
Desert Vipers 158 for 8 in 20 overs (Ali Naseer 63 n.o, Luke Wood 30, Azam Khan 19, Fazalhaq Farooqi 4 for 31)