Just hours after scoring his first half-century of the evening, Eoin Morgan stole the show again with another fifty as Kerala Kings made history by becoming the first winners of the T10 League.
The 31-year-old had scored 53 in the team’s five-wicket semi-final victory over Maratha Arabians and the skipper led by example, combining with Paul Stirling (52no) to deliver another stunning performance in the eight-wicket win over Punjabi Legends on Sunday.
Needing 121 to win, Morgan astonishingly smashed 63 runs from just 20 deliveries with six maximums and five fours to light up Sharjah Stadium. Such was the significance of his knock that when he was removed by Hasan Ali, he received a round of applause by the fans around the stadium. As winners, each member of the squad will receive 100 grams of gold.
Before a ball was even bowled, there was already big numbers outside the stadium – some who were fortunate to have tickets while others hoping to buy some for the last day.
It was all to see three matches – both semi-finals and final but more significantly a chance to see the likes of Morgan and Shahid Afridi, in particular, in action for the last time in this format before the tournament returns for another 12 months.
Those 13,000 spectators were treated to something special. First, Morgan’s half-century. After that, Afridi smashed a 17-ball 41 while Ahmed Shehzad hit a half-ton only for it to go in vain as Luke Ronchi’s 60no and Shoaib Malik’s 48no blistering knocks rocked the stadium as Punjabi Legends thrashed Pakhthoons by nine wickets.
And that was just the semi-finals. The final between Kerala Kings and Punjabi Legends itself didn’t disappoint either.
With the atmosphere still vibrant at the start of the game at 22:30, those who stayed back witnessed an exhilarating encounter.
While Umar Akmal was bowled by Liam Plunkett, Ronchi picked up where he left off in the semi-final by hitting his second fifty of the day. By the time he reached his milestone, it was his fifth maximum and fourth four of the match.
Malik was lucky to still be at the crease with his sliced shot in the air falling short of the fielder at eight runs. But he made the most of the lifeline with his first six later on, before another maximum to bring up the team’s 100.
He was finally beaten by Ryad Emrit’s short ball before Plunkett removed the dangerman Ronchi for the first time after his 70.
Kings’ chase got off the worst possible start with Chadwick Walton out for a first-ball duck. But Morgan again showed why he’s one of the most destructive batsmen in limited-overs cricket.
The 31-year-old took apart young Pakistan pacer Faheem Ashraf with 24 runs including a six that went 113 metres onto the roof of the stands.
When Stirling got into the act with three consecutive sixes, Morgan showed no reprieve to his former England team-mate Ravi Bopara with three maximums and a four.
That left Kerala needing 29 from the next five overs and just 19 more deliveries to reach their target.
Enough said. Enough done.
Champions 2017 👑 pic.twitter.com/IRW7OJkoPM
— Kerala kings (@KeralaKingsT10) December 17, 2017
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