Corey Anderson and Hassan Khan

Unicorns’ Fast Start Not Enough to Topple Texas Super Kings

The San Francisco Unicorns first match in Morrisville ended in a seven wicket defeat to the Texas Super Kings, despite a promising start led by explosive batting from Matthew Short and a positive all-round display from Hassan Khan.

The Texas Super Kings chased down the Unicorns 127 within 18 overs after vital contributions from Devon Conway, captain Faf du Plessis, and Aaron Hardie at the top of the order to provide a commanding foundation that steered them to their first win of this year’s Major League Cricket (MLC) tournament.

Faf du Plessis won the coin toss for the Super Kings on a ground that saw them post 203 two days previously and put the Unicorns into bat first on a wicket that clearly had a few runs in it. This was demonstrated almost immediately with Finn Allen hitting a six off the second ball against Zia-ul-Haq. Following a further boundary, Allen then hit out to mid-off, losing his wicket for 10 runs off four balls.

After a calmer second over from Naveen-ul-Haq, Zia-ul-Haq returned to take the wicket of opener Fraser-McGurk in his next set of six for 11 runs. Now two down, the Unicorns responded by kicking on, led by some exciting shots by Matthew Short who hit back-to-back sixes from Zia-ul-Haq in the fifth over, before losing his own wicket for 33 off 15, after a composed catch on the boundary by Calvin Savage.

Regular wickets followed, with Dwayne Bravo taking two wickets in his opening over, with two more falling to match MVP Mohammad Mohsin an over later. In a precarious position at 81/7, the Unicorns then showed some stability and resistance with Haris Rauf and Hassan Khan capitalizing on singles and occasional boundaries to drag the team to 109 before Rauf was caught at cow corner off Mitchell Santner.

The Unicorns were soon bowled out in the 18th over following impressive bowling from Mohsin in taking the wickets of Hassan Khan for 19 and then Abrar Ahmed for 6, leaving a chase of 128 left to the Super Kings; a below par score on a pitch that had shown early promise.

Haris Rauf and Brody Couch opened for the Unicorns’ bowling attack against Faf du Plessis and Devon Conway, with the Super Kings’ batters navigating their express pace with opportunistic batting that left them on 43/0 after four overs. Liam Plunkett was next to bowl in the power play, and after being hit for three sixes in his first four balls, took the crucial wicket of du Plessis for 34 to give the Unicorns some hope.

The Super Kings remained on top in the following overs, despite losing Devon Conway who retired hurt, amassing 100 runs in the first half of their innings, leaving just 28 required from the remaining 60 balls. Hassan Khan took the two wickets of Joshua Tromp and Aaron Hardie in his second over, but the Super Kings completed their chase in the 13th over with Mitchell Santner taking the team over the line for their first win of the season.

The result puts the Texas Super Kings at the top of the MLC table on net run rate having played three games, with the San Francisco Unicorns dropping to fifth place behind the LA Knight Riders having played a game less. Corey Anderson will look to return his team to winning ways on the same Morrisville pitch against the Knight Riders on July 13.

Brief Scores: Texas Super Kings 128/3 (Faf du Plessis, 34; Aaron Hardie, 34) by seven wickets Beat San Francisco Unicorns 127 all out (Matthew Short, 33; Hassan Khan, 19)