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Abu Dhabi T20 League moved a step forward with another set of spectacular matches. All three matches on Saturday turned out to be rather one-sided, but we expect lot closer contests on Sunday. The first of the three matches on Sunday is set to be played between Pune Devils and Team Abu Dhabi. The match will be played at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi, on 31st January 2021.
Contrary to what most people would have expected, Team Abu Dhabi are yet to get off the mark in the tournament. They faced another landslide defeat, this time at the hands of Qalandars, and are consequently languishing at the bottom of the Group B points table. In addition to that, they have a net run-rate of -1.472, which is not going to be of any help should things get tight towards the back-end of the group stage.
It was a familiar story for Team Abu Dhabi in the second match as well, even though they made some drastic changes at the top of the order. Luke Wright demoted himself down to order to allow the maximum number of deliveries to the likes of Chris Gayle, Paul Stirling, and Ben Duckett, but the latter two never looked threatening. Paul Stirling scored 29 off 16, but that innings was too slow for T10 Cricket.
They eventually managed to put a total of 100 runs on the board, but that total was never going to be enough to keep Qalandars at bay. It didn't prove to be any different as Tom Banton and Sharjeel Khan smashed Abu Dhabi's bowlers to all parts of the ground. Barring Naveen-ul-Haq, who returned with excellent figures of 19 for 1 in his 2, none of the TAD's bowlers looked threatening. Qalandars eventually sealed the deal with ten balls to spare and eight wickets in hand, denting Team Abu Dhabi's net run-rate in the process.
On paper, Team Abu Dhabi have a remarkably good side. Their batting unit is as good as any on paper, but they are yet to get their combination at the top right, let alone the execution. Their bowlers have looked good in patches, but the lack of runs hasn't helped their cause either. For Team Abu Dhabi to do well, their batsmen will have to be at their intimidating best and if that happens, TAD will rise up the ladder pretty rapidly.
Luke Wright, Chris Gayle, PR Stirling, Ben Duckett, Joe Clarke, N Zadran, Rohan Mustafa, Jamie Overton, Obed McCoy, Usman Khan, Thomas Helm.
While Pune Devils are placed a spot higher than Team Abu Dhabi, they haven't done too well either. Their first win of the tournament came in rather because of a poor batting performance by Deccan Gladiators and then they were defeated by Qalandars in their subsequent match. As it currently stands, Pune Devils are placed at the third spot on the points table with two points and a terrible net run-rate of -1.332.
Pune's recent outing against the Qalandars showcased their inability to hit big ones despite having set batsmen at the crease. They finished with just two wickets down by managed to put only 107 runs on the board. Tom Kohler Cadmore played a fantastic knock, scoring 54 off 28 and so did Darwish Rasooli, who scored 39 runs off 24. However, the Devils needed the two batsmen to score at a faster rate.
Pune Devils' bowling was torn apart by Tom Banton, Sharjeel Khan, and Sohail Akhtar as they together dislodged the 108-run target with a little under three overs to spare. Considering how brutally the Devils were defeated, bouncing back could be difficult for them. Having said that, they have a decent team on paper with most of their players having extensive T20 experience. They'd need to show some intent with the bat and if they are successful in doing that, they would be difficult to stop.
Nasir Hossain, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, K Lewis, CAK Walton, DC Thomas, Karan KC, Hardus Viljoen, Mohammad Amir, Munis Ansari, Ahmed Raza, Alex Davies.
The two teams that are set to meet in the upcoming match have contrasting strengths and weaknesses. While Team Abu Dhabi are a batting heavy team, Pune Devils are reliant more on their bowling. Both sides have looked far from their best and would be taking this match as a chance to get back into the groove. Considering the combination of the two sides on paper, Team Abu Dhabi seem to be a better-balanced side. They also happen to have more number of experienced players. For those reasons, we'd be placing our money on a Team Abu Dhabi win and you should too.
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