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Dominic Drakes four-for helps ensure Team Abu Dhabi wait goes on

Liam Livingstone's side suffer batting implosion as Bulls charge into T10 final

Aadam Patel
Fazalhaq Farooqi has to leap for a high five with Dominic Drakes  •  Abu Dhabi T10

Fazalhaq Farooqi has to leap for a high five with Dominic Drakes  •  Abu Dhabi T10

Delhi Bulls 109 for 7 (Shepherd 26, Livingstone 2-7) beat Team Abu Dhabi 60 (Drakes 4-13, Farooqi 3-5) by 49 runs
Halfway into the Abu Dhabi T10, with five wins out of five, Team Abu Dhabi were looking like the team to beat with their imposing brand of cricket, instilled by Paul Farbrace, and the aggressive manner in which they were taking the game to the opposition.
Captain Liam Livingstone said they would commit to that fearless style and strategy, knowing that one day they would get bowled out for 50 or 60. He just wished that day wouldn't come when it really mattered.
For much of the tournament, that approach worked - they became the first side to reach the play-offs and with last-ball sixes to seal victories against Deccan Gladiators and Delhi Bulls, the trophy looked destined to be theirs. Everything was going their way. But as so often happens in these competitions, it is about peaking at the right time.
As the T10 journeyed towards its business end, their insistence on that identity remained; perhaps ultimately, it was the cause of their demise.
It was at this very stage that Team Abu Dhabi fell in the last edition of this tournament, and as they were bowled out for 60 by Bulls in the second qualifier here, driven on by a determined Dominic Drakes who will no doubt be a man you will hear much more of in years to come, their inability to adapt proved to be the reason as to why it will be Gladiators and Bulls who will instead contest Saturday's final at the Zayed Cricket Ground.
After Gladiators had earlier beaten Bulls in the first qualifier to secure their place in the final, the Abu Dhabi outfit hammered Bangla Tigers to eliminate Faf du Plessis' side. The final act of Friday's triple-header thus saw sides led by Livingstone and Dwayne Bravo go head to head for a place in the final.
Earlier in the day, Wanindu Hasaranga's crucial removal of Rahmanullah Gurbaz - the star of the tournament - for just 19 offered a different challenge for the Bulls batters. Suddenly, they needed someone other than Gurbaz to step up
Despite Eoin Morgan briefly threatening to pull off something special when he went after Andre Russell with three consecutive sixes, he hit a full toss the very next ball straight to Odean Smith and that was the end of that.
Wahab Riaz stated how despite Gurbaz hitting the Sri Lankan for six in the first over after the powerplay, he continued with that match-up knowing that Hasaranga was his key wicket-taker. That decision worked as Gurbaz sent the first ball of Hasaranga's next over straight to Tom Kohler-Cadmore at long-on and it was Gladiators, instead of Bulls, who would get Friday night off.
A few hours later, Livingstone handed the ball to Sheldon Cottrell to open the bowling against Gurbaz. Cottrell started with a wide, but his first legitimate delivery was simply too good for Gurbaz. With a hint of extra bounce and a fraction of movement, the ball beat the youngster's inside edge and crashed into his stumps.
Livingstone again showed his quality with the ball, removing his England captain, Morgan, for the second night in succession and finishing with figures of 2 for 7 in his two overs.
At the interval, needing 110 to reach their first ever Abu Dhabi T10 final, Team Abu Dhabi would have been quietly confident with the wealth of batting that they possessed - in Livingstone himself, accompanied by the likes of Chris Gayle, Phil Salt, Paul Stirling and Colin Ingram - yet, with an element of concern knowing that the night before they had struggled to 86 for 8 against the same opposition, largely thanks to an Adil Rashid hat-trick and three wickets for Drakes.
When Salt and Stirling smashed 23 off the first over from Chandrapaul Hemraj, it looked like this was going to be their night.
Instead, Bravo turned to his trump card in Drakes for the second over and the 23-year-old responded in style, getting the in-form Salt, before removing the powerful Livingstone for a golden duck as he edged through to Gurbaz. Sparked by a spirited celebration from Gurbaz, the Bulls players went wild - they sensed blood.
And they didn't take their foot off the gas. The wickets kept coming. Fazalhaq Farooqi had gone for 41 runs in his two overs earlier in the day, but with his first over, he dismissed both Stirling and Ingram. In the very next over, Gayle hit one from Romario Shepherd straight to Bravo at long-off and Danny Briggs was gone first ball as Gurbaz pulled off a brilliant one-handed catch. The wicketkeeper set about celebrating in style, knowing that the Bulls had one foot in the final.
At 44 for 6 at the halfway stage, the game was all but done. Bravo turned again to the man from Barbados to make it a certainty and with his second over, he got rid of both Jamie Overton and Marchant de Lange. Drakes finished with stunning figures of 4 for 13 and joined Hasaranga with 19 wickets at the top of the tally. He has been a revelation this year and will no doubt make his West Indies debut on their tour to Pakistan. In the son of Vasbert Drakes they have a star in the making.
As Cottrell heaved one out to Morgan to conclude the final rites, Team Abu Dhabi were all out for 60 with nine balls to spare. For Livingstone and co, that dreaded moment had come at exactly the wrong time. Their wait for a first ever T10 title goes on.
Instead, it will be either Wahab or Bravo who lifts the trophy come Saturday evening.

Aadam Patel is a freelance sports reporter who has written for BBC Sport, the Daily Mail, ESPNcricinfo, the Cricketer and other publications @aadamp9