KING CITY, Ont. – A commanding all-rounder team batting and bowling performance, aided by a revitalized David Warner, led Winnipeg Hawks to an eight-wicket victory over Edmonton Royals, setting up a repeat showdown between the two teams in the Global T20 Canada playoffs.
Warner, whose previous run totals were 1, 4, 1, 6 and 0, finally got a notable score with 42 runs, in an innings that included a towering six over the mid-wicket boundary off a leg-spin delivery from Pakistani star Shahid Afridi.
“He’s a class act, that’s why we always want to stick by him,” said Winnipeg coach and Pakistani icon Waqar Younis. “He’s a special talent and yes it was a bit worrying for us and I’m glad that he’s got a few runs, it will make him feel much better going further into this tournament. He looked not Warner yet, but I’m glad he’s getting there.”
The victory for Winnipeg (3-3) resulted in them finishing third in the standings with six points, while Edmonton (2-3) and a no result, finished the second round in fourth place. Both teams will meet in the second of two playoff matches Thursday, following a top-of-the-table clash between Vancouver Knights and Cricket West Indies B Team, which finished first and second, respectively.
The winner of the Knights-Windies B match advances straight to the championship final on Sunday, while the loser will face the winner of the Royals-Hawks contest on Saturday for a spot in the final.
Winnipeg won the toss and followed the general competition trend of making the opposition the bat first.
The game got off to an entertaining start with New Zealand opener Luke Ronchi (15) hitting American fast bowler Ali Khan for two boundaries in the first over, before he perished in the second over, hitting a top edged catch to wicket-keeper Ben McDermott off the bowling of medium pacer Fidel Edwards.
Canadian Abraash Khan of Mississauga, Ont., playing in his first match of the competition joined Pakistan’s Agha Salman and the pair settled proceedings for Edmonton during a stylish 77-run second wicket partnership.
However when both Khan (28) and Salman (43) were dismissed in the space of two overs via the bowling of medium pacer Rayad Emrit and Canadian left-arm spinner Hiral Patel, Edmonton slipped from 77/1 in the ninth over to 97/4 in the 13th over.
At this stage Edmonton’s innings never recovered, losing their final six wickets for a meagre 44 runs with eventual man of the match Fidel Edwards being the chief wicket-taker.
Winnipeg got the perfect start with Warner and Lendl Simmons racing the 50-run opening stand in the first five overs.
Simmons, had to leave the field injured after he was hit on the fingers via a nasty rising delivery from Pakistani left-arm quick Mohammad Irfan.
Before retiring hurt, Simmons eclipsed Australian Moises Henriques as the tournament-leading run scorer. His tally currently sits at 253 runs.
After Warner and fellow Australian McDermott (18) were dismissed by bowlers Irfan and Salman with the scores on 90 and 124, respectively, young Trinidad and Tobago left-handed batsman Mark Deyal finished the chase off expertly in a 19-ball cameo in which 28 off his 37 runs were scored in boundaries.
“It’s not easy out there, it’s a difficult pitch to play and as the tournament is getting deep it is becoming harder because the pitches are getting a little tired,” said Younis. “It is going to be a hard job from here on, but we have to fight it out and keep going and keep pushing.”