West Indian Nicholas Pooran took the match away with a stunning knock against Dubai Capitals in Eliminator at Sharjah Stadium on Thursday. Image Credit: Source: ILT20

Dubai: A slow start by Dubai Capitals in the Eliminator gave an impression that it is going to be a low-scoring thriller. But that was not to be as Nicholas Pooran and Fletcher gave masterclass on a perfect Sharjah pitch to give MI Emirates a clinical eight-wicket win in the DP World ILT20 on Thursday, and a place in the Friday’s Qualifier 2.

Chasing a paltry target of 152, the Caribbean stars danced down the wicket and made merry to the music a band playing from the stands to keep the fans’ spirit high on a chilly and windy night. The ease with which Pooran produced the fireworks gave the impression that he was batting on a different wicket after George Munsey and Sikandar Raza laboured to keep the Capitals scoreboard moving after being put in to bat by skipper Kieron Pollard. Pooran (66 not out) and Fletcher (68 not out) ensured MI Emirates cruise to the target with 3.2 overs to spare

Knockout pressure

The knockout game, the pressure of failure, might have discouraged the Capitals duo to go into a shell, with team inching 50/1 in 9 overs. It’s too slow for any form of modern day whiteball cricket, while thanks to Bazball, the red ball cricket is seeing a run-rate in excess of 5 these days. Both Raza and Munsey were guilty of taking too long to accelerate and the duo putting on a 50-run partnership off 54 balls means not even run a ball.

“We should have shown more intent with the bat today. We didn’t play with the right intent in the first six overs. I had a great experience in the DP World ILT20 and I got to watch a lot of good cricket as well. It was good to watch the UAE players in the tournament as well,” Dubai Capitals skipper Yusuf Pathan said.

Left-arm pacer Trent Boult dismissed Robin Uthappa early, which pushed the Capitals on the backfoot. Image Credit: Source: ILT20

World-class bowlers

Credit should, however, be given to the bowling of the experienced Twenty20 specialists Trent Boult and Rashid Khan, both combined giving away just 39 runs in 8 overs. The MI Emirates bowlers read the conditions well and used the skiddy, low bounce to their advantage, bowling a fuller length and not giving the Capitals’ batters the elevation to play their shots.

“Trent Boult and Rashid Khan put up a top performance today. They are world-class bowlers. We are taking it one game at a time. We have a big game tomorrow. We’ll treat it as another game and try to give our best,” MI Emirates bowling coach Vinay Kumar said.

Thanks to a late urgency from Munsey and Rovman Powell, the Dubai team managed to score 101 runs in 11 overs, reaching 151 for five in 20 overs, giving themselves something to fight. But Pooran and Fletcher dealt in sixes, nine in total while Capitals in contrast scored four, three coming from Powell.

Dasun Shanaka, last match’s another main scorer, played just seven balls, as Capitals finished at least 25-30 runs short of their total.

Rashid Khan produced a top show to spin the match in MI Emirates' favour. Image Credit: Source: ILT20

Dangerous side

The display by MI Emirates showed what a dangerous side they are once they enter the play-offs. Before the match, skipper Pollard said that they would treat this match like any other game and wanted his players to enjoy and give a good account of themselves. They certainly did more than what is expected off them, excelling in their roles.

MI Emirates victory ended Capitals’ run in the inaugural edition of the professional franchise league, and also set up a mouth-watering clash against Gulf Giants, who had an off day against Desert Vipers in Qualifier 1.

The Giants hold the upper-hand against MI Emirates, after winning the league contest by five wickets while the other one was washed out due to rain. The teams will be facing off again at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday. The opening partnership of Tom Banton and skipper James Vince laid the foundation for Giants’ win over MI Emirates and will be once again key for their fortunes in Qualifier 2. With Banton injured during the Qualifier 1, his full fitness is still a question. It is MI Emirates, who will hold the edge in the Qualifer 2 as the team poses plenty of players who have been in that situation on the big stage and come out trumps.

Brief scores:

MI Emirates bt Dubai Capitals by 8 wkts. Dubai Capitals 151 for 5 in 20 overs (George Munsey 51, Sikandar Raza 38, Rovman Powell 30, Trent Boult 2 for 19, Rashid Khan 2 for 20) MI Emirates 152 for 2 in 16.4 overs (Andre Fletcher 68no, Nicholas Pooran 66no).