Veteran Luke Wright helps add 116 for first wicket in eight-wicket victory
Delhi Bulls 133 for 2 (Gurbaz 70, Wright 40*) beat Northern Warriors 128 for 6 (Powell 56) by eight wickets
Sport has its way of telling tales and on the eve of his 20th birthday, Gurbaz took centre stage with a ruthless 70 off 32 balls as the Bulls inflicted a fifth defeat out of six on the reigning champions. Gurbaz made his debut for Afghanistan aged just 17 and it was a special knock from a special talent as he cut, lofted and slogged the Warriors bowling attack around the Zayed Cricket Ground.
The 19-year-old, who was the youngest player at the T20 World Cup, played with the class and poise of a man with bags of experience, as he pierced the gaps and struck the ball beautifully in a knock which included six fours and five sixes. By the time the wicketkeeper batter, who has signed for Leicestershire next season, was dismissed, the game was all but done. He was met by joyous smiles from the Bulls dugout and a massive hug from his skipper, Bravo.
Such was the confidence in Gurbaz that the first ball he faced from Imran Tahir was not defended or nudged away. Instead, the Afghanistan batter audaciously smashed the 42-year-old – who had made his first-class debut before Gurbaz was even born – over long-off for six in the second over. Asked about his mindset going into that particular battle, a buzzing Gurbaz said, “I don’t think about who is the bowler against me, I try just to wait for the loose ball and watch the ball clearly.”
Oshane Thomas, who had taken the first hat-trick of the tournament the night before, was brought back down to earth by Gurbaz as he was lofted over square-leg off his first legitimate delivery, before the youngster hit him for two more sixes in the seventh over. The West Indian’s first appearance of the Abu Dhabi T10 had been one to remember as he sealed the Warriors’ first win, removing Mark Deyal, Tion Webster and Curtis Campher to claim a memorable hat-trick. Courtesy of Gurbaz and Wright however, his second appearance will be one he will want to forget in a hurry.
This format allows batters to tee off to a degree rarely seen elsewhere and, after belting 30 off 10 in the opening match of the Abu Dhabi T10 against the same outfit, Gurbaz’s combined tally of 100 off 42 against the Warriors alone, highlights just how dominant he has been against the defending champions.
“That’s the beauty of T10 that players really get to express themselves and showcase their talent,” Bravo said, and Gurbaz mentioned how a word of advice from his coach, Andy Flower, had allowed him to do just that.
“My confidence was a bit low [after the last two games] but he [Flower] told me you have this ability, so just show it… the coach told me that the other team should be under pressure and not you, because we have some very big legends in our team” said Gurbaz. “So yeah, it’s easy for me.”