Sherfane Rutherford retires twice but helps Avram Glazer’s Desert Vipers to ILT20 final

Sherfane Rutherford retires twice but helps Avram Glazer’s Desert Vipers to ILT20 final

Avram Glazer was able to spend a few hours thinking about something other than the sale of Manchester United as he watched his newest sporting endeavour reach a first final in Dubai.

The American businessman was present in the Royal Box at the Dubai International Stadium as his Desert Vipers side beat Gulf Giants in the qualifier playoff in the DP World International League T20.

It was the second match witnessed in person by Glazer, who is also a co-owner of the Premier League giants United.

His first taste of cricket ownership in person had been a sour one. He attended the corresponding fixture between the two sides in the league phase last week, in which the Giants had been comfortable winners.

It appeared as though he must be an unlucky mascot given the way the Vipers started the playoff. Midway through their 17th over, they were 126 for six, and looked destined to set a meagre total.

It was at that stage, though, that Sherfane Rutherford re-entered the fray – to dramatic, not to mention heroic, effect.

The Guyanese left-hander managed to retire hurt twice in the innings, but not before helping his side to a match-winning total.

Having made five from six balls Rutherford appeared to tear a hamstring after running a single. He had lengthy medical treatment on the field, and was carried off.

Despite being barely able to stand, let alone run, he returned to the crease at the fall of Luke Wood’s wicket. His ensuing cameo was decisive.

He hit four sixes in six balls after returning to basically stand at the crease, off the bowling of two bowlers – Chris Jordan and David Wiese – who have been among the best in the competition to date.

Rutherford eventually limped off the field with a ball left in the Vipers innings, having swiped 32 in 13 balls after returning to battle on. Crucially, his team added 52 in three and a half overs during his second spell at the wicket.

It meant the Vipers were able to post 178 for seven from their 20 overs, and thus had something to defend.

The Giants’ task had also been complicated by injury. Tom Banton had vacated the field midway through their bowling effort, after sustaining a finger injury while keeping wicket.

It meant a rare sight for this competition: that of three UAE players in the field at the same time. Ashwanth Valthapa, the 21-year-old UAE wicketkeeper, was the injury replacement for Banton, and he proceeded to take two catches.

His fellow home-based players enjoyed mixed fortunes. Sanchit Sharma went wicketless with his two overs of seam. Aayan Afzal Khan was afforded just a single over to bowl, as he picked up the wicket of Sam Billings.

Despite having nothing like a formidable total to defend, the Vipers rarely looked under threat – emboldened as they were by Rutherford’s bravery.

They did give the Giants a couple of chances, most notably by shelling catches when Shimron Hetmyer was on two and then again on 32.

When they eventually did snare him, for 36 from 21 balls, the Giants subsided. Tom Curran was the pick of the bowlers, with four wickets, while Wanindu Hasaranga took three as the Giants fell 19 runs short.

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