After losing each of their first two games in the competition, MT Bulls pulled off a remarkable chase to down table toppers Panthers and register their first win of the tournament. After being set a target of 131, astonishing hitting saw the Bulls chase the target down with a ball to spare.
Brief scores: MT Bulls 135/7 off 19.5 overs (Tommy 50 and Tamata 2/20) beat Panthers 130/3 off 10 overs (Rasu 70* and Mansale 2/22) by three wickets
Viraliuliu, Rasu decimate Bulls bowlers
Unbeaten in the tournament, having obliterated both their opponents on the opening day of the Vanuatu T10 Blast, the Mighty Efate Panthers knew exactly what they wanted to do after winning the toss: bat first. But after being ravaged by Andrew Mansale with the bat in their first H2H encounter against the Bulls on Thursday, today, the Panthers were humbled with the ball by the all-rounder, as Mansale struck twice in the first over - on back-to-back deliveries - to reduce the table-toppers to 1-2; a start identical to what we witnessed in the first match of the day. The Panthers, however, did not let the early setbacks bog them down, as the second and the third over combinedly yielded a total of 18 runs, with Joshua Rasu and W Viraliuliu taking the attack to the bowlers. But while the game was progressing at a somewhat smooth tempo for the first three overs, it could be said that no one was prepared for what was about to follow in the fourth - not the Panthers, not the Bulls, not the viewers back home or the four fans sat on the boundary line watching the game. Viraliuliu, who batted with a strike rate of 325 in these two teams’ H2H encounter on Thursday, decimated the medium pace of Marcel Taea, smacking the right-armer for four humongous, consecutive sixes to punch the soul out of the winless Bulls side. A few more lusty blows from either batsman meant that the Panthers’ score read 77/2 at the end of the sixth over; at this point, it looked like they were well on their way to surpassing 128/5 they’d scored in the inaugural match of the tournament. Viraliuliu then perished for 48 in the seventh over, but he passed on his supernatural hitting ability to Rasu as the latter struck 29 runs in the seven balls post Viraliuliu’s dismissal to bring up his fifty of just 22 balls. A couple of more sixes in the last two overs meant that Rasu finished on 70*, propelling the Panthers to a Brobdingnagian score of 130/3.
Resilient Bulls pull off one of the best chases in T10 history
Having lost each of their first two encounters in the tournament, the task at hand for the Bulls, heading into the second innings, was an almost-impossible one: chase down 131 in 10 overs against the table-toppers who had bowled their opponents out for just 35 in their last outing. The Panthers started the proceedings with the ball with the off-spin of Simpson Obed, and after conceding 9 runs off the first two balls - three wides and a six - the offie struck on the third, trapping Matautaava in front after the batsman played all around a reverse-sweep. But both Clement Tommy and Andrew Mansale were in no mood to give up and took the Panthers bowlers on, as the Bulls hurried their way to 39/1 at the end of the 3rd over - on par with the required run rate. Tommy, in fact, looked like a man possessed - perhaps by the soul of Viraliuliu - as despite losing his partner Mansale, the right-hander kept going, thwarting the Panthers bowlers to all parts of the ground to keep the Bulls right in the hunt. At 60/3 at the halfway stage, the Bulls, in fact, were right in the contest; all they needed was for Tommy to stretch his otherworldly blitz till the end of the innings. And he did. After smacking three fours in the sixth over, the right-hander followed it up with a monstrous six in the seventh to bring up his fifty off just 19 balls and with 49 needed off 21 balls, the winless Bulls were still in with an outside chance. However, one misstep from Tommy was all it took to lose his wicket as the right-hander perished to the bowling of Tony Tamata, miscuing a pull straight to Kendy Kenneth at deep mid-wicket. The Panthers, at this moment, were confident of having wrapped up the game, but a 21-run onslaught from Philip Tsione in the 18th over left them shell-shocked and brought the equation down to just 20 off 2 overs, making the chasing side firm favourites. Tsione departed in the 19th, but a blistering cameo from Rival Samson - a six-ball 13 - remarkably reduced the equation to 4 off 3 balls, after which an unlikely hero, Darren Wotu smacked Kenneth over long-on for a huge six to seal an improbable win for the Bulls. With the nerve-wracking chase, the Bulls registered their first win of the competition.
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