10th Feb, 2023

A valiant effort, but alas, our journey ends here!

By MI Emirates Media

MI Emirates skipper Kieron Pollard’s power-packed half century went in vain as the team bowed out of the ILT20 tournament after going down fighting against the Gulf Giants by four wickets in the second qualifier played at the Dubai International Stadium here on Friday.

The mighty Trinidadian mixed power with finesse for a breezy 35-ball unbeaten 57, laced with three boundaries and four massive sixes, and more importantly raised his hands when his team demanded, once again displaying his brilliant leadership skills.

Pollard, whose fourth half century of the ILT20 helped him retain the second spot among the top run-getters, ensured that the MI Emirates add 100 runs in the final 10 overs.

At the post-match presser, Pollard, who has retired from the Mumbai Indians, was at his wittiest best as he left the scribes in awe while speaking on his transformation as a batter, leading the MI Emirates’ chart with 394 runs at a staggering strike rate of 192.15.

“It all started off at the end of the last IPL when you guys (fans) wrote me off. It gave me an opportunity to go back and think about what I need to do. There has been a lot of talk about my age, although I’m just 35 while there are others playing at 38 and 39 years. So that gave me the extra motivation. I leave you guys wanting off,” he said.

Joining hands with his West Indian teammate Nicholas Pooran (29) with the team in a spot of bother, the right-left combo injected the pace into the MI Emirates’ innings with a crucial 71-run partnership for the fourth wicket after the team crawled to 67/4 from the first 10 overs.

“There can be a lots of ifs and buts now, obviously we are on the losing side but sometimes the situation presents itself when you have to take the initiative. We were struggling a bit, we didn’t start off pretty well with the bat. We had some bad starts earlier in the tournament but today it cost us,” Pollard said.

Earlier, MI Emirates lost last evening’s star Andre Fletcher cheaply while Lorcan Tucker’s 17-ball 21 cameo also did not last too long. Muhammed Waseem managed to break the shackles for a while, with a six off Colin de Grandhomme, and then depositing leg spinner Qais Ahmed for two consecutive hits out of the park before his 26-ball 31 was cut short by Chris Jordan. 

Waseem’s departure at the crucial juncture demanded the need for acceleration, which was provided by the team’s best bets in the Trinidadian pair of Pooran and Pollard. 

Pooran used the three reprieves to full advantage by playing the perfect second fiddle to his captain, who clobbered the leg-spinner for consecutive sixes to turn on the heat. Pollard later meted out special treatment to other bowlers to add another 29 runs for the fifth wicket with Dwayne Bravo, who remained a spectator to the fellow Trinidadian’s exploits.

In response, Giants’ skipper James Vince struck an unbeaten 83 to take the team to the final even after Bravo arrested a flashy 64-run start with the scalp of Chris Lynn (24) and Rashid Khan surprised de Grandhomme with a googly to further apply the brakes. 

With the opposition needing 60 off the last 8 overs, Fazalhaq Farooqi struck twice in two deliveries to briefly get MI Emirates back into the game, and make up for the dropped chance of Gerhard Erasmus (12) off his skipper from the previous over. Rashid struck again with Wiese’s (15) wicket but by then the damage was mostly done.