The inaugural Global T20 Canada closed with an emphatic seven-wicket win for the Vancouver Knights as Aussies stars failed to fire.
The Knights and the Windies B side entered the final with four wins apiece from their six matches. The Knights having taken top spot by virtue of losing just one match – along with a no-result after their abandoned match against the Edmonton Royals – compared to the Windies’ two losses. Honours were otherwise even, as the sides had gone 1-1 in their round robin matches against one another.
The Knights took the early advantage by winning the toss and sending the Windies in, and the bowlers did the business as a unit, cutting through the top-order to leave them reeling at 53-5 inside eight overs.
Fabian Allen hit out for all he was worth, smashing 41 off 23 balls (SR 178.26) with three fours and three sixes, before falling to Saad Bin Zafar. Fellow West Indian Sheldon Cottrell wrapped up the Windies B tail, finishing with figures of 4-29 (ec0n 7.90) to top the Global T20 bowling charts with 16 wickets at a strike-rate of a wicket every 103 balls. Zafar picked up 2-26, while Fawad Ahmed destroyed the middle-order, taking 3-24 at an economy rate of just 6.00.
West Indies B was bowled out for 145 in just 17.4 overs, but their bowlers put their best foot forward to cut the Knights down to size when they took to the crease. The West Indian opening pair of Chadwick Walton and Chris Gayle, along with Aussie Ben Dunk, were all back in the hut inside four overs as the Knights stumbled to 22-3.
South African Rassie van der Dussen got the innings back on an even keel, playing sensibly to score an undefeated 44 off 41 balls (three fours), but the spotlight turned to Canada’s Pakistan-born Zafar to make a name for himself when it truly mattered.
The 31-year-old Zafar has played just two first-class matches, 13 List A games and six T20s, but he chose the 2018 Global T20 Canada final as his moment to shine, blasting an undefeated 79 off just 48 balls (eight fours, three sixes, S/R 164.58).
Zafar’s innings, ball by ball
|0 – 0 – 4 – 1 – 0 – 1||1 – 1 – 1 – 2 – 0 – 1||4 – 1 – 2 – 1 – 0 – 0|
|1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 0||6 – 4 – 4 – 0 – 4 – 1 – 4||2 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 0|
|6 – 2 – 0 – 1 – 0||2 – 6 – 4 – 4 – 1 – 0|
Van der Dussen struck the winning runs with a four through extra cover as the Knights passed the Windies target with just three wickets down off 17.3 overs, one ball fewer than the West Indies’ truncated innings. Zafar deservedly picked up the Player of the Match honours for his two wickets and thundering 79 not out.
Van der Dussen and Zafar’s undefeated partnership of 126 put the seal on the first Global T20 Canada tournament and, for all the hype and hitting of the big stars, tournaments such as these are vital for their potential to unearth great new talent that might otherwise never see the light of the public gaze.
‘I am very proud. It feels surreal,’ Zafar said after his match-winning innings. ‘I played as a bowling all-rounder in this tournament and to perform in the finals was great. Credit to Gayle [Knights’ captain] for giving me this role. We restricted them to 145, I needed to bat out 20 overs and with Russell and Hayat in to come, anything under 10 was gettable. Credit to Van der Dussen as well, he was instructing me on how to go about this chase. He played an amazing knock too.’
Whether or not we hear from Zafar again, he’ll always have Canada 2018!