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Billings and Raza lead Dubai Capitals to a spectacular run-chase win over Abu Dhabi Knight Riders

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Dubai Capitals’ Sam Billings and Sikandar Raza produced a clinical run chase to register a five-wicket win over Abu Dhabi Knight Riders in the eighth match of the DP World ILT20 season 2 at the Dubai International Stadium. Chasing Knight Riders’ impressive total of 183 for 4 in 20 overs, Billings cracked an elegant 67 off 35 balls with nine boundaries and one six, well-backed by Sikandar Raza who scored 43 off 29 balls with five boundaries, to win the match with 23 balls to spare. The pair put on a 109 runs partnership off 59 balls for the fourth wicket.

None expected Dubai Capitals to record such a comfortable win after Knight Riders’ impressive batting show lead by Sam Hain and Laurie Evans. They had put on a 131-run partnership in 78 balls for the fourth wicket. Hain scored 77 runs off 49 balls with eight boundaries and two sixes. Evans hit an unbeaten 67 off 41 balls with six boundaries and two sixes.

Dubai Capitals were faced with the challenge of having to score at a run rate of 9.15. They also lost their skipper and star batsman David Warner to the second ball of the first over for a duck, trapped leg before by David Willey. Opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz too would have gone for a duck had Andre Russell not dropped an easy catch at long-on off Imad Wasim. Jake Fraser-McGurk then hit Wasim for two successive sixes and Willey for consecutive sixes. But Russell ended his innings forcing him to top edge a pull shot for a return catch for 41. Sunil Narine removed Gurbaz edging to wicketkeeper Gous for 21.

Sam Billings and Raza took the score past the 100-run mark in 8.2 overs. By the half way mark, the pair made the target gettable with 64 runs needed to win. Billings reached his half century in 27 balls. He fell at the score of 67 caught by Evans at long-on off Narine. Raza followed seven runs short of his half century, caught and bowled to a leading edge when Capitals needed only four runs to win.

Earlier, Capitals, who had lost their last match to Sharjah Warriors, won the toss and elected to bowl. Knight Riders, who were bowled out for just 95 runs in their previous match by MI Emirates, began on a shaky note through a double strike from Dushmantha Chameera. Andries Gous got clean bowled to Dushmantha Chameera for 4 while one-drop Michael Pepper edged to wicketkeeper Rahmanullah Gurbaz for 4.

Hain went for his shots but opener Alishan Sharafu hit Roelof van der Merwe straight to Sam Billings at mid-wicket for 15 in the seventh over. Laurie Evans and Hain took the score to 75 for 3 by the half way mark. Jason Holder got smashed for 18 runs in in the 13th over with Evans hitting two boundaries and a six off successive balls. Evans reached his half century in 28 balls. Hain too reached his half century in 37 balls. They recorded their 100 runs partnership in 66 balls. Holder ended Hain’s knock with the second ball of the last over forcing him to hit straight to Sikandar Raza at extra over.

Capitals skipper David Warner hailed his boys, stating: “The boys stayed calm. With two set batters, we stuck to our plans and it made things better. My first message to the team was to be brave, express yourself and execute your skills. Have a clear mind and then you win the game comprehensively, like today.”

Knight Riders skipper Sunil Narine said bowling with the dew was tough. “I think we batted well, it was a good total. Picking up early wickets would have been good for us bowling second. Their batters stuck to their plan, and not losing wickets helped them. Bowling second with the dew makes it difficult for spinners. However, we need to execute better.”

Player of the Match, Sam Billings, said that he only maintained the momentum. “I think it is a lot easier when you are ahead of the game, thanks to Fraser-McGurk and Gurbaz. We just had to continue that momentum. Although the toss does play a factor, we played really well. Raza and I were running hard between the wickets, and the lack of dot balls puts pressure on the bowlers.”

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UAE fuel prices announced for March 2024

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The Fuel Prices Monitoring Committee has given the green light for an increase in gasoline and diesel prices for March 2024. The approved hike ranges between 15 and 16 fils per liter for gasoline and 17 fils for diesel, compared to February 2024 prices.

Fuel distribution companies have promptly announced the new prices, effective from Friday, March 1, 2024. The updated pricing includes a 5% value-added tax.

Specifically, the price per liter of super gasoline “98” is set to rise by 15 fils, reaching 3.03 dirhams in March, up from 2.88 dirhams in February. Special gasoline “95” will see an increase of 16 fils, from 2.76 dirhams to 2.92 dirhams, while E-Plus 91 gasoline will climb by 16 fils, reaching 2.85 dirhams from 2.69 dirhams. Additionally, the price of diesel will experience a 17 fils per liter hike, escalating from 2.99 dirhams in February to 3.16 dirhams in March.

This decision follows three consecutive monthly reductions in gasoline and diesel prices approved by the committee for January 2024. The reduction ranged between 13 and 14 fils for gasoline and 19 fils for diesel per liter compared to December 2023 prices.

Notably, the Ministry of Energy’s approved fuel price standards are subject to monthly adjustments based on the global average oil price, incorporating distribution companies’ operating costs.

New fuel prices are:

-Super 98 petrol will cost Dh3.03 a litre, compared to Dh2.88 in February.

-Special 95 petrol will cost Dh2.92 per litre, compared to Dh2.76 last month.

-E-Plus 91 petrol will cost Dh2.85 a litre, compared to Dh2.69 a litre in February.

-Diesel will be charged at Dh3.16 a litre compared to Dh2.99 last month.

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DP World ILT20 Season 2: UAE’s top five performers

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The recently concluded DP World ILT20 Season 2 captured the attention of fans worldwide with its enthralling displays of athleticism and competitive cricket. However, beyond the fierce battles between international giants, this tournament provided a mega platform to unearth the burgeoning talent of UAE’s own cricketers.

Here are the top five performers from UAE for the season:

1.Muhammad Waseem

The opening batter from the United Arab Emirates was the fourth highest run-getter this edition, with 321 runs in 12 matches at an impressive strike rate of 148. Providing an impetus at the top with his aggressive stroke play, Waseem’s exploits were crucial to the MI Emirates stellar campaign. The MI Emirates were the first team to secure their place in the play offs and subsequently went on to win the championship.

Waseem’s stand out knock of the season came against the Abu Dhabi Knight Riders, where he struck an unbeaten 89 to ensure the MI Emirates would coast home with eight wickets in hand.

Waseem’s tournament exploits earned him the Blue Belt which came with a cash purse of $15,000 for being the most outstanding UAE player, second time in a row.

2.Alishan Sharafu

The top order batter for Abu Dhabi Knight Riders had a good season compiling 220 runs in the 11 innings he batted in, at a strike rate of 120. While his contributions played a significant role in his team’s qualification to the play-offs, his match winning knock of 82 not out from 47 deliveries against the Desert Vipers while chasing 155 was the fourth highest individual score in the tournament and also his best performance.

3.Muhammad Jawadullah

Returning to his second season with the Sharjah Warriors, the left arm pacer was one of the leading wicket takers for the Sharjah Warriors this season with 10 wickets in 8 matches. Although the team had a forgettable season finishing in last place, the 24-year-old was consistent with his lines and lengths. His best performance of the tournament was against the Abu Dhabi Knight Riders where he picked up 3 wickets for only 5 runs with an economy rate of 2.5 runs per over.

4.Zuhaib Zubair

The Gulf Giants’ Zuhaib Zubair was one of the best bowlers from the UAE this season.  In eight matches, the leg-spinner picked up 11 wickets with his leg breaks at an average of 16. He also logged some of the best figures of the tournament when he finished with 4/22 to power the Giants to a mammoth 79 run victory against the Sharjah Warriors.

5.Muhammad Rohid

The 21-year-old left arm quick from the MI Emirates impressed one and all with his bowling, picking up nine wickets in the 16 overs he’s bowled in the tournament. While he may not have been among the top wicket takers of the tournament, his bowling showed a lot of promise. His best performance came against the Desert Vipers where he picked three for 21 in three overs, accounting for the wickets of Alex Hales, Adam Hose and Azam Khan.

Special mention

Though UAE’s U19 captain Aayan Afzal Khan does not figure in the top 5 list, thanks to Muhammad Rohid pipping Aayan for the fifth spot, the 18-year-old left-arm spinner from the Gulf Giants is worthy of a mention for his fantastic bowling spells. He picked up six wickets in the seven innings he bowled including a spell of two wickets for eight runs in his three overs against the Dubai Capitals that helped his team defend a score of 126, winning the game by 19 runs.

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MI Emirates’ batting brilliance overpowers Dubai Capitals by 45 runs to emerge as DP World ILT20’s new champions

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MI Emirates’s run riot crafted by their skipper Nicholas Pooran and Andre Fletcher’s half centuries, which produced the highest total this season, blew away Dubai Capitals by 45 runs to emerge as the new champions of the DP World ILT20 Season 2.

In front of a packed Dubai International Stadium, Pooran scored a breezy unbeaten captain’s knock of 57 runs off 27 balls studded with six sixes and two boundaries. He was backed by Fletcher’s 53 off 37 balls, featuring four sixes and three boundaries. Openers Muhammad Waseem and his partner Kusal Perera contributed aggressively, with Waseem scoring 43 off 24 balls, including three boundaries and three sixes, and Perera adding 38 off 26 balls, with six boundaries, leading to a 77-run opening partnership and helping MI Emirates set a record score of 208 for 3 in 20 overs.

In reply, Capitals could muster only 163 for 7 in 20 overs with Trent Boult and Vijayakanth Viyaskanth bagging two wicket each. MI Emirates received the winners’ prize of a whopping $700,000 (USD) while the runners-up received $300,000 (USD).

Chasing the mammoth total, Capitals had it tough from the start with Emirates’ Akeal Hosein, who has been regularly striking in the first over, trapping Leus du Plooy leg before, resulting in a duck. Tom Abell, when on 7, was dropped by Dwayne Bravo at mid-off by Trent Boult, but was later caught by Pollard off Rohid Khan for 14. Banton and his skipper Sam Billing pushed the score to 63 when Banton got foxed by leg spinner Vijayakanth Viyaskanth to be stumped by Pooran for 35.

Sikandar Raza, who has played many match-winning knocks for Capitals, scored just 10 runs before hitting Viyaskanth to Waseem at deep mid-wicket. Capitals, faced with the challenge of scoring 100 runs in 41 balls, saw Waqar Salamkheil remove Billings stumped by Pooran for a fighting 40. Trent Boult then struck twice to remove Rovman Powell caught by Waseem at deep midwicket and clean bowl Jason Holder for 24 to ensure his team’s victory.

Earlier, Capitals won the toss and elected to bowl. MI Emirates’ opener Waseem started with a six over long-on off Scott Kuggeleijn, while his partner Kusal Perera played some flowing drives. The pair reached their half-century partnership in 3.3 overs, with Waseem hitting two boundaries and a six off Kuggeleijn in that over. By the end of the powerplay, MI Emirates had posted 72 runs. Waseem fell to Zahir Khan when he was seven short of his half-century, lifting Zahir Khan to Rovman Powell at mid-off.

Andre Fletcher maintained the run flow with Perera and steered the total to the 100-run mark in 10.5 overs. At the score of 102, Leus du Plooy pulled off a diving catch at deep mid-wicket to dismiss Perera, who attempted a slog sweep off Sikandar Raza, for 38.

Spinners Raza and Zahir Khan tried to strangle the run flow, but skipper Nicholas Pooran and Fletcher hit sixes off them. They put on a 50-run partnership in 28 balls and took the score past the 150-run mark in 15.5 overs. Another spectacular diving catch by Du Plooy at backward square leg to Fletcher’s top-edged pull ended the 56-run partnership.

Kieron Pollard joined Pooran, who smashed Jason Holder for 19 runs in the 18th over with two towering sixes and a boundary. With the score reading 177 for 3 and two more overs to go, the crowd got ready to cheer for the 200-run mark. Emirates achieved it off the fifth ball of the last over through a six from Pooran. This six also helped him reach his half-century in 26 balls. In the last five overs, Emirates hit 74 runs.

James Vince of Gulf Giants with 356 runs from 12 innings emerged the highest run-getter to win the Green Belt, while Waqar Salamkheil with 17 wickets was the highest wicket-taker and bagged the White Belt on better economy rate pipping Fazalhaq Farooqi, who too had 17 wickets. Muhammad Waseem won the Blue Belt for the best UAE player for the second year is succession. Sikandar Raza bagged the Red Belt for the Most Value Player. All of them pocketed USD 15,000 each. DP World Biggest six was awarded to Andre Fletcher while DP World Most 6s of the season was won by Nicholas Pooran. The Cycle Hub Catch of the season went to Sam Billings for his one-handed effort at the slip to dismiss Will Smeed in Match No2.

MI Emirates’ skipper Nicholas Pooran, after receiving the Player of the Match, hailed his openers for setting the stage for the victory. “Truly special to be the man of the match in the final. We spoke about having the right energy and attitude. I couldn’t have asked for a better start, they (openers) did the hard work, we just finished it off. It’s about understanding the situation and batting accordingly.”

Losing captain Sam Billings was sporting in his defeat and said: “Always regret when you lose. As captain, I’m go to bed thinking where it went wrong. But they were brilliant, Nicholas Pooran in that mood is very difficult to play against. Maybe they scored 20-25 runs too many. One of the best things about playing cricket in different places is experiencing different cultures. The UAE players have all been impressive. Really happy to see them improve.”

Sikandar Raza who won the most valuable player award said: “Quite a proud and humbling moment for me. It has been a journey, it is the reward for a lot of sacrifice, hard work, and pain. I just want to say thank you to all those who have prayed for me in these last two years, especially during my illness. I like to be in the position where the skipper can bank on me to bowl four overs every time. Thirteen wickets in the tournament feels like the hard work is coming through; we can only get better.”

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