The moments that stood out on a wild, edge-of-the-seat Playoff Thursday
It was a day packed with action. A day when Vancouver Knights booked a spot in the final, when Brampton Wolves braced themselves for a semi-final on Saturday, when Winnipeg Hawks just about qualified for the game on Saturday, and when Toronto Nationals were eliminated by a hairsbreadth. It rained a bit, then it rained fours and sixes. There were electric catches and magic deliveries.
It’s now time to pick the best of the lot:
Most inventive innings of the day:
Was played by the Vancouver Knights opener Tobias Visee. As ever, he moved around in his crease, switched his grip, lapped, slapped, reverse-lapped, reverse-slapped and did everything he could to throw the bowlers off rhythm. The result: a 22-ball 40 and plenty of confusion for those trying to get him out.
The biggest six of the day:
Came from – who else? – Andre Russell. It was struck off medium-pacer Abraash Khan. And it flew, over the bowler, over the sightscreen, over the press box, and finally out of sight. The TV cameras recorded the distance it traveled as 103 metres. There was no one to measure the surprise behind the gasps and the wows that could be heard around the ground.
The most electric innings of the day:
In his first ten balls, Colin Munro galloped to 38. Three balls later he was on 46. Fifty came up in 15 balls – the fastest in this edition of the GT20. He was finally out for 65, having blasted five fours and six sixes in an innings that lit up the ground. Line, length, pace, spin, nothing mattered. The ball was disappearing to all parts.
The most effective over of the day:
With Munro at the steering wheel, Brampton Wolves seemed to have the chase under control. That’s when Canadian left-arm spinner Saad Bin Zafar severely dented their chances span of five balls. First the wicket of Munro, caught by Russell at long-off – throwing the ball up as he stepped over the boundary, and coming back to catch it. Then the scalp of Shahid Afridi for a golden duck – trapping him plumb in front. And, three balls later, the wicket of Abraash – lbw once again. It was an over that comprehensively tilted the game. And all but ensured their place in the final.
The catch of the day:
There were several contenders: Russell, Chadwick Walton, Rassie van der Dussen, Kaleem Sana, Kieron Pollard… But for sheer reflexes and athleticism, none could beat the grab by USA’s Hayden Walsh Jr on the third man boundary to seal Vancouver Knights’ victory. From how it appeared, Walsh Jr. seemed to advance an extra step or two… when he realized the ball was slightly higher than he expected. That brought on a magnificent backward leap and grab that instantly made the jaws drop. The fact that such a catch brought an end to the game gave it that much more luster.
The partnership of the day:
Shoaib Malik and Russell did a fine job for Vancouver Knights but it is tough to look past the 137-run stand for Toronto Nationals between Rodrigo Thomas and Heinrich Klaasen. Both slammed the ball to – and over – the fence. Both found the gaps with ease. And both continued their fine form through the tournament. At one point in their partnership Thomas went past Gayle to become the highest run-scorer in this edition of the GT20. A few minutes later, Klaasen went past Thomas’ aggregate.
The most clinical innings of the day:
Again, there were several contenders but for his ability to read the match situation, pick out which bowlers to go after, realize when he had to attack and when he could afford to take singles – JP Duminy’s unbeaten 85 deserves high praise. He walked in with the score at 27 for 2 – and his team chasing 239 for victory in a must-win match – and walked out with the win assured. Forty-one balls, eight fours, five sixes. Some textbook perfect drives, some agricultural hoicks, but all arriving with calculated risk. Duminy knew his team would stand no chance if he were to get out. He remained unbeaten in their last-grasp victory.