1st Feb, 2023
MI Emirates’ bowlers put on a spectacular performance to almost clinch victory before Shimron Hetmyer’s last ball six took Gulf Giants’ over the line, with a five-wicket win at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium here on Wednesday.
Despite the loss, the MI Emirates are still third on the ILT20 points table, and will look to win their remaining two games for a shot at the play-offs.
Exuding confidence on the MI Emirates’ prospects, pace spearhead Trent Boult said, “100 per cent. It’s exciting why you want to play such tournaments, and play the big games. One more game here and another game in Dubai, we need to win the two games and we are in the play-offs.”
Put into bat on a track that promised good bounce and spin, MI Emirates needed some solidity in the middle after losing Andre Fletcher (4) and Basil Hameed (9) with just 27 runs on the board.
And with Nicholas Pooran and Muhammed Waseem got together for the fight back, to get MI Emirates to a competitive score. The left-right combo provided the right impetus to the MI Emirates’ innings with a solid 61-run third wicket partnership.
Waseem, who got a reprieve on 7 after being dropped by Rehan Khan at point, went on to score 29 off 25 deliveries, and more importantly ensured that MI Emirates continued to dominate the proceedings, in a knock containing a couple of fours and sixes.
Pooran, who came up with a crucial 42 off 29 balls, showed why he’s such a valuable asset in the MI Emirates’ line-up, depositing Rehan for three sixes, in a knock that included three fours as well, before eventually falling to the same bowler.
Skipper Kieron Pollard chipped in with a 7-ball 19, thanks to consecutive sixes off Rehan, who once again struck with the wicket of the giant Trinidadian to leave MI Emirates at 120/5 by the 15th over.
With a final flourish from Imran Tahir, (5-ball 10) helped MI Emirates post 139.
In response, Jordan Thompson and Bravo picked up wickets of the Giants’ openers James Vince (25) and Tom Banton (45), and later the rest of the MI Emirates bowling stuck to a disciplined line to stifle the flow of runs. And the ploy did pay off as Fazalhaq Farooqi and Bravo struck with the wickets of the set batters — Gerhard Erasmus (20) and Chris Lynn (28) mounting further pressure on the Giants.
“The spirit that the bowling unit had shown was remarkable. T20 cricket is all about being aggressive, taking it down to the last over. I feel for Jordan Thompson, he bowled pretty good spell. It’s a good learning curve for him,” said Boult, who led the pace attack brilliantly with a miserly spell, giving only 14 from his quota of four overs.
In the penultimate over, the experienced and seasoned Bravo displayed his athleticism to perfection by running out David Wiese (5) off his own follow-through leaving the equation down to 11 off 6 balls.
The MI Emirates bowlers kept the pressure till the very last delivery until Hetmyer (13) slammed a six on the last ball to guide the team get over the line and qualify for the play-offs.