About the Match
Table toppers Gemini Arabians will take on 4th place finisher Sagittarius Strikers in the first semi-final clash of the Masters Champions League at Dubai on 11th February. While the Arabians remained undefeated till now in the series, Sagittarius had a mixed run winning only two out of five games but inching ahead of the Commanders by net run rate. It will be a complete entertainer as both sides will try to come out on the winning side of this knock-out game that is sure to test the perseverance of the players and their strategy making skills on the field.
They won all five games during the league stage in a convincing manner and this gives them the psychological advantage to perform even better in the upcoming semi-final clash against Sagittarius that will take them closer to the title. Against Virgo Super Kings in the last game they played, the Arabians top-order combined to start the innings well; Sangakkara posted a well-made half-century from just 34 deliveries while Saqib Ali scored 46 from 41 balls. Chanderpaul and Justin Kemp did their best to keep the scoreboard ticking and they could muster 144 runs, which the bowlers defended successfully.
While Kyle Mills took 2 wickets in the game against Super Kings, he gave away too many runs proving to be the costliest; Paul Harris, Graham Onions and Naved-ul-Hasan contributed with a wicket each to stifle the opponent and win the match by 22 runs. They have a well-balanced team with strong batsmen like Sangakkara, Jacques Rudolph, Chanderpaul and Virender Sehwag, who had scored a brilliant 134 off just 63 balls against the same opponent Sagittarius last week.
With experienced batsmen like Sehwag, Sangakkara and Chanderpaul and expert bowlers like Muralitharan, Mushtaq and Hodge, the Arabians surely are a formidable side to reckon with.
When they met Arabians in the league stage, they had failed to chase down a humongous target of 225 runs, being able to muster only 212 on board; Adam Gilchrist failed to fire opening the innings while Imran Farhat’s well-made half-century and contributions by Yasir Hameed and Yasir Arafat failed to change their fortune and they lost the match by 12 runs.
Santokie had an amazing spell with the ball against the Arabians as he picked up 5 wickets giving away only 30 runs but the others failed to make a dent on the opposition and leaked away huge runs. Against Leo Kings too, the bowling wasn’t up to the mark and although Santokie, Arafat, Farhat and Hauritz picked up regular wickets, they failed to defend 151 runs in the end.
They have a solid batting line-up with batsmen like Gilchrist, Jayawardene, Imran Farhat and Carberry among others in the squad but they need to come out all guns blazing in order to put up a stiff challenge to the hard-hitting Arabians.
Sagittarius Strikers have had a few hiccups in their campaign so far while for Gemini Arabians, its been like a walk in the park. Arabians cruised to victory in their previous game without having their prime players any major role to play as skipper was keen to have ample rest for them as well as give match practice to everyone before the business end of the tournament. While the contest could swing either way, we feel that the Arabians who have not yet suffered defeat will continue with their winning momentum and make it to the finals