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Match Analysis

Shimron Hetmyer's fireworks give debutants Samp Army top-two finish ahead of playoffs

New York Strikers, themselves first-timers, face Samp Army in Qualifier 1, while Team Abu Dhabi and Deccan Gladiators meet in the Eliminator

Aadam Patel
File photo: Shimron Hetmyer hit 45 off 18 balls for Samp Army  •  Getty Images

File photo: Shimron Hetmyer hit 45 off 18 balls for Samp Army  •  Getty Images

The final four of the Abu Dhabi T10 is set after Friday's triple-header at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, with New York Strikers and Morrisville Samp Army, the two new franchises, topping the league table. They will now be going head-to-head in Saturday's Qualifier 1, with the winner directly making it to Sunday's final.
After Delhi Bulls beat Chennai Brave in a dead rubber on the last day of the round-robin matches, Samp Army brushed Northern Warriors aside to temporarily go atop before Strikers reclaimed top spot by hammering Team Abu Dhabi.
In what is the same format as the IPL, the loser between Samp Army and Strikers will get another go on Saturday evening against the winner of the Eliminator between Team Abu Dhabi and defending champions Deccan Gladiators.
Moeen Ali's Samp Army side came into their final league match knowing that a win would be enough to finish in the top two, but found themselves in a bit of bother after losing four wickets in the space of eight deliveries during their chase of 118. At 82 for 5 at the start of the seventh over, the game was in the balance, with Moeen, David Miller, Shimron Hetmyer, Karim Janat and Johnson Charles back in the dugout.
Both Moeen and Miller were dismissed without troubling the scorers, but a rapid 45 off 18 deliveries from Hetmyer - including five monstrous sixes - had set Samp Army up, after which Dwaine Pretorius (17* off seven) and Chamika Karunaratne (22* off eight) held their nerve to take their side home with nine balls to spare.
Hetmyer was in the headlines in October after missing West Indies' rescheduled flight before the T20 World Cup, and subsequently getting removed from the West Indies squad, but has enjoyed being a part of the T10. He walked into the post-match press conference with a bandage around his left arm after hurting himself during the run chase, but still with a beaming smile.
"Whatever's happened before has happened, and I'm trying to put that behind me," Hetmyer said. "One of the best things about T10 cricket is just the freedom to go out and express yourself. Win, lose or draw, I try and play the game with a smile on my face, and enjoy it as much as I can."
After seeing Samp Army's win, Chris Lynn's Abu Dhabi outfit knew that nothing less than two points would do if they wanted to get back in the top two, and coming off the back of a four-game win streak, they would have certainly fancied their chances. But Strikers have found another gear throughout the last week, and came into the game with a five-match winning run of their own. And from the moment Kieron Pollard won the toss, they were in control.
They struck regularly with the ball, with Wahab Riaz taking 3 for 4, and Rashid Khan showcasing his craft and guile by bowling his namesake Adil Rashid and Andrew Tye. At the halfway mark, a total of 78 was never going to trouble Pollard's side, who had spent their previous two evenings in Abu Dhabi pulling off chases of 144 and 113.
Though Paul Stirling was undone by a superb inswinger from Naveen-Ul-Haq, it was Eoin Morgan and Muhammad Waseem who steadied the ship before Adil Rashid removed his former England captain. But any doubt of a Strikers' win was removed in the next over, as David Payne was sent for three sixes by Waseem, and Pollard secured victory in style with a huge hit over long-on.
Eight teams are now down to four, and it is the new boys who are making all the noise at season six of Abu Dhabi T10.

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