Road to Abu Dhabi T10 season 5 title: Deccan Gladiators’ march to their maiden trophy

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The Abu Dhabi T10 season 5 produced 16 days of exciting cricketing action.

From November 19 to December 4, the Zayed Cricket Stadium witnessed some world class batting, splendid bowling and acrobatic fielding that culminated with the Deccan Gladiators lifting the title for the first time in the tournament’s history.

The Gladiators became the champions by defeating Delhi Bulls in the final through a comprehensive 56-run margin.

However, it was not just the finals in which the Wahab Riaz-led team finished as the better side.

The Gladiators had an almost perfect campaign right from the beginning, with new players stepping up when needed. And in the first match, it was Tom Moores who got things going for the Gladiators.

England’s Tom Moores struck an unbeaten 47 off 17 against the newest team of the tournament, The Chennai Braves, to set the ball rolling for the Deccan Gladiators.

Despite a below-par performance in the next match, the Gladiators found a new hero in Wanindu Hasaranga – the No. 1 T20 bowler of the world. The Sri Lankan leggie scalped four wickets in a losing cause but showed the world he is as potent in the T10 format too.

As the season progressed, the Gladiators found their rhythm and went on to win five of their next seven games, consolidating their place in the top four that would eventually qualify for the playoffs.

The best, however, was yet to come for the men in blue and purple. Here are some of the highlights from the Gladiators’ incredible season.

Hasaranga, Cadmore break records

In the last group stage match, Deccan Gladiators put up a record-breaking performance against the Bangla Tigers, one of the strongest teams this season.

Wanindu Hasaranga broke the bowling record for the best bowling figures in a match while Tom Kohler-Cadmore scripted history with the bat.

The leggie picked up five wickets for just eight runs in his quota of two overs, registering the best bowling figures in five seasons of the tournament.

Hasaranga trapped Karim Janat and Johnson Charles in successive deliveries of his first over before sending back Benny Howell, James Faulkner and Vishnu Sukumaran in his next. What’s more astonishing is that the second over was a maiden – a feat never done before in Abu Dhabi T10.

In the same match, Tom Kohler-Cadmore blitzed 96 runs – the highest score in the history of the tournament. On his way, the Englishman struck five sixes and 12 fours to surpass Chris Lynn’s 91 from season 3.

Deccan Gladiators won the game by 62 runs and ended the group stage on top of the table with 14 points – same as Delhi and Abu Dhabi – but with a better net run-rate.

Game on in play-offs and a memorable final

Qualifying for the playoffs after topping the table meant the Gladiators had two opportunities to make the final. But they needed just one.

In the Qualifier 1, the Gladiators beat Delhi Bulls after Odean Smith all-round performance, which saw him slam 30 off 11 and pick up a wicket.

A 17-run win against the Bulls propelled Wahab Riaz’s team directly into the final.

Delhi Bulls, the second-best team from the group stage, set up a rematch with Gladiators after knocking out Team Abu Dhabi in Qualifier 2.

Batting first in the grand finale, Deccan Gladiators’ big-hitting Andre Russell and Tom Kohler-Cadmore came out all guns blazing, whacking every Delhi Bulls bowler to all parts of the stadium.

The Jamaican plundered 90 off 32 while Kohler-Cadmore struck 59 in 28 to set the new record for the highest partnership and the highest team total of the season.

The gargantuan total of 159/0 proved too big for the Bulls as Hasaranga scalped two and helped Deccan Gladiators lift the trophy for the first time.

Hasaranga ended the tournament with 21 wickets, the highest in any season of the competition, and was adjudged Player of the Tournament. Cadmore was the top scorer for the Deccan Gladiators with 288 runs in his 12 matches while Odean Smith’s strike rate of 283.67 was the best in the tournament.

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