GT20 Match 1 Report: Toronto Nationals vs Vancouver Knights
Anton Devcich struck a destructive 92 not out to lead Toronto Nationals to opening day victory over Vancouver Knights by six-wickets in the inaugural Global T20 Canada at the Maple Leaf Cricket Club Ground.
The two sides representing Canada’s most famous cities were led by former West Indies captains Daren Sammy and Chris Gayle and it was Sammy who won the toss and elected to first field on the small venue and pitch which neither side knew whether winning or losing toss had an added advantage.
The first six over power play period score of 53 for 2 with both Gayle (17) and Chadwick Walton (8) dismissed gave Toronto an early hint that their decision was being vindicated.
It almost got better in the eight over when Evin Lewis on 48 was dropped at long-off by Steve Smith off Kieron Pollard's bowling.
Lewis immediately started to make them pay, first by launching avalanches of sixes as he dominated a 79 run fourth-wicket partnership with South African Rassie Van der Dussen (25).
When joined by his West Indian team mate Andre Russell, it became a six hitting contest between the duo as Vancouver Knights eased past 200 leaving the Toronto National bowlers helpless just hoping they would mistime one of their shots.
Only Canadian spinner Nikhil Dutta held his own with impressive figures of 4-0-26-2 and Steve Smith singled him out for particular praise comparing his bowling style to Sunil Narine in the post-match press conference.
In the chase it became clear the pitch was allowing batsmen to play their shots and the 200 score could be chased depending on potential good batting by Toronto Nationals.
The nationals suffered a bad start however when New Zealand’s Tim Southee, bowled Hong Kong’s Nizakat Khan in the first over with a beautifully pitched outswing delivery, that has dismissed many batsman worldwide with in his illustrious career to date.
At this point, the moment many were waiting for arrived as Smith walked to the middle.
Charles (30) did his job of helping Toronto Nationals getting off to flyer in power plays, before was out caught at deep mid-wicket mistiming an attempted six, which allowed Smith to not have any immediate pressure to score fast from the get go.
Afterwards Smith took charge during a 91-run third wicket alliance with Devcich showing hints of the kind of form that aided Australia in their recent Ashes series win against England, before he was stumped by leg-spinner and countryman Fawad Ahmed.
This partnership gave Toronto the perfect base to launch with big hitter Pollard and Sammy to come. But despite Pollard being dismissed cheapy, it was Devcich who showed his muscle notably hitting Russell for three sixes in the 19th over, before Sammy finished things off by hitting Canadian fast bowler Jeremy Gordon for a straight six.
Toronto Nationals 231-4 (Anton Devcich 92*, Steve Smith 61) beat Vancouver Knights 227-4 (Evin Lewis 96, Andre Russell 54*; Nikhil Dutta 2-26) by 6 wickets
Andre Russell's fifty in 19 balls today was his joint fastest fifty in T20 cricket. He scored a fifty in 19 balls against KXIP at Kolkata in 2015.
Evin Lewis has hit 128 sixes in T20 cricket since 2017 - the joint most by any player along with Chris Gayle.
31 sixes were hit in the game today - the joint fourth most in a T20 match. The record is of 34 in a T20 match between Central Districts and Otago in 2016 played at New Plymouth.
Anton Devcich has hit six fifties from 10 innings in T20 cricket in 2018.