Abu Dhabi: Hard-hitting West Indian batsman Chris Gayle struck an unbeaten 84 off 22 balls to pulverise Maratha Arabians' bowling attack and steer Team Abu Dhabi to a nine-wicket win in a Super League match of the Abu Dhabi T10 tournament here.
Gayle smashed nine sixes and six boundaries during his blistering knock at the Abu Dhabi Zayed Cricket Stadium. He reached his fifty in 12 balls and equalled the fastest half-century in T10 history held by Mohammad Shahzad for Rajputs in the 2018 edition.
Chasing Maratha Arabians' moderate total of 97 for 4, Gayle helped his team reach the target in 5.3 overs.
The towering 'Universe Boss' tore apart the opposition attack with his batting pyrotechnics. All his sixes and boundaries were hit effortlessly. Incidentally, 78 of his 84 runs came through boundaries.
Put in to bat, the Arabians introduced UAE's 18-year-old Alishan Sharafu to open with Mukhtar Ali. Tom Helm bowled a maiden first over to Sharafu.
In the second over, Mukhtar hit Rohan Mustafa for three boundaries while Sharafu hit a six to take 19 runs off that over.
At the half way mark, the Arabians were 52 for 1.
Sharafu's fine knock of 33 came to an end in the seventh over when Obed McCoy had him caught behind.
Senior Pakistan batsman Mohammad Hafeez too followed, caught and bowled by Naveed Ul Haq, for 20 in the eighth over.
Shoaib Malik later hit two consecutive boundaries off the fourth and fifth deliveries of Naveed's over to swell the Arabians' total.
Chasing the easy target, Gayle gave Abu Dhabi a flying start. He hit Yamin Ahmadzai for three consecutive boundaries and a six to get 18 runs off the over.
Opener Paul Stirling too hit Sompal Kami for two consecutive boundaries of the first two balls of the second over.
Gayle hit the fourth, fifth and sixth deliveries for sixes to take 27 runs off the over.
After Mosaddek Hossain picked the wicket of Stirling with the second ball of the third over, Gayle then went on to hit the next four balls for two boundaries and two sixes.
Maratha Arabians: 97 for 4 in 10 overs (Alishan Sharafu 33, Mohammad Hafeez 20; Obed McCoy 2 for 20).
Team Abu Dhabi: 100 for 1 in 5.3 overs (Chris Gayle 84 not out).
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The investment by the Knight Riders Group, which is led by actor Shah Rukh Khan, along with Juhi Chawla and her husband Jay Mehta, will thus establish their fourth T20 franchise around the world in IPL, CPL, MLC and now in UAE's T20 league
Last year, Chris Gayle featured in 10 games and scored 193 runs at a strike rate of 125.32, while in 2020, he played just seven matches and amassed 288 runs