Captains with trophy-1708103246504
Sam Billings of Dubai Capitals and Nicholas Pooran Captain of MI Emirates during the pre-final trophy shoot on Friday. Image Credit: CREIMAS/ILT20

Dubai: Experience, motivation and preparation are the key to succeed and the MI Emirates, who have a poor record at the Dubai International Stadium, will be eager to get their act together as they aim to make amends in the DP World ILT20 Season 2 final against Dubai Capitals in what billed to be an entertaining contest on Saturday.

Get exclusive content with Gulf News WhatsApp channel

While MI Emirates were the first team to book their place in the play-offs, Dubai Capitals had it tough, having to fight their way up the points table during the final stages of the league phase. Thanks to a last-ball six by ace all-rounder Sikandar Raza, Capitals were able to edge out Desert Vipers in the crucial game that helped them cement the last spot for the playoffs.

Dew factor

In the eliminator, Dubai Capital beat Abu Dhabi Knight Riders and followed it up with a sensational win against the defending champions Gulf Giants in Qualifier 2. MI Emirates, on the other hand, sailed through after a smooth victory against the Giants in Qualifier 1.

Dubai Capitals skipper Sam Billings has the experience of playing in the final, albeit for a losing cause when Desert Vipers lost to Giants in Season 1. But he is not taking anything for granted against the MI Emirates, who have won just one match in Dubai over the last two years. In the previous clash, Capitals breezed to a seven-wicket win, but now with more dew at the ground, toss could also become vital.

pooran pc new
MI Emirates skipper Nicholas Pooran feels that the players were able to step up their efforts to reach the final. Image Credit: CREIMAS/ILT20

It has been a season of revelation for the MI Emirates, who didn’t qualify for the playoffs last year. But under the new management of head coach Robin Singh and skipper Nicholas Pooran, the Men in Blue have turned the tables on their rivals.

“In the three different venues we have played, our record in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah were good, but in Dubai we have gotten just one win in two years. We just weren’t winning in Dubai. That was a big challenge for us because if we need to qualify for final, then we had to cross that line. We understood the different conditions and had come up with different tactics and change of personnel as well. As a group, we want to step up our efforts and from the player’s perspective, a lot of our players have been consistent. The fact of the matter is that we all wanted to do well for self, for the team and for the franchise and that made a lot of difference,” Pooran replied to a question from Gulf News on the reasons for vast improvement in performance in Season 2.

Arduous trip to Australia

Both Capitals and Emirates have had to constantly replace their players during the course of the tournament. Capitals missed the services of David Warner, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Jason Holder and Rovman Powell over the last few matches, while Pooran left for West Indies duty before returning to the side for the final, but the addition of Kieron Pollard has given them a huge boost in the middle order. Despite missing the stars, the Capitals had enough strength and showed great composure to sneak their way to the top.

Pooran, Holder and Powell had to travel to Australia and play three Twenty20 internationals against the 2021 world champions before returning to Dubai for the final. All of these in just under 10 days. Despite crossing different time zones, the West Indian left-hander is ready for the challenge in the final.

billings new
Dubai Capitals' skipper Sam Billings is taking nothing for granted in the final despite his team having a stunning run. Image Credit: CREIMAS/ILT20

Billings feels that despite the unavailability of players, retaining the core team and reposing faith in them is the key to his team’s success.

Volatile format

“There’s highs and lows, of course. It is a pretty volatile format of the game, but it’s amazing when you have a team just focusing on really simple processes and playing as a team. We’ve started to find our rhythm and we’ve got some really good results and the confidence is high. But we are taking nothing for granted. We’ve been playing knockout cricket for the last four or five games because we have to win every single game, but it puts us in good stead for these final stages,” added the 32-year-old England whiteball specialist. “So a huge credit goes to every single individual that he’s been around and everyone stayed upbeat as well. I think that’s the biggest thing regardless of performances and results and that’s a huge part.”

MI Emirates skipper Pooran said: “Batters win you games but the bowlers win you tournaments,” in reference to his high-class bowling unit that played a big part during his team’s journey to the final this season. So the finale promises to be a cracker of a contest between two high-quality teams.

The reward for the winners is a whopping $700,000, while the runners-up will receive $300,000. Almost all matches had some outstanding performances with nail-biting thrillers like a last-ball finish and a last-ball-six win. 
The DP World ILT20 will reward the highest run-getter with a Green Belt and the highest wicket-taker with the White Belt, while the most valuable player will receive the Red Belt. There have been some outstanding performances from the UAE players in this edition, and to recognise their performance, the best UAE player will receive the Blue Belt. For their spectacular show of consistency, they will also pocket $15,000 each.