MI Emirates
MI Emirates players celebrate during the prize distribution ceremony after winning the ILT20 title on Saturday. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Leading a franchise as big as Mumbai Indians comes with immense pressure. Add the dual role of batting and wicketkeeping, it makes it further difficult. But the West Indian left-hander showed he was up for it and could handle any pressure with ease after guiding MI Emirates to their maiden title in the DP World ILT20 Season 2 with a convincing 45-run win over Dubai Capitals at a packed Dubai International Stadium on Saturday.

Get exclusive content with Gulf News WhatsApp channel

Pooran, who proudly calls himself the son of franchise cricket, says Mumbai Indians’ winning mentality and their belief in winning titles is the key to franchise’s successes across the globe.

“It’s all about belief and stepping up. If you want something in life, you have to go get it. Everyone had to step up. Mumbai Indians are a big franchise and there is pressure. But personally I have lost a lot of games in my career so far. Few years wanted to convert the starts into match-winning innings and stay not out. Those are a big boxes for me to tick. I am really happy that all my hard work I have put in the last couple of years is finally getting me the rewards, especially the titles. That’s big for me,” said Pooran, who won the man of the final award for his unbeaten 57 that took MI Emirates past the 200-run mark.

Blazing start

It was a good toss to lose for the MI Emirates skipper, whose team benefited from the fresh wicket to get off to a blazing start and score 72 in first six overs. UAE skipper Muhammad Waseem and Sri Lankan left-hander Kusal Perera gave MI Emirates the right platform for the two West Indians, Andre Fletcher and Pooran, to launch the attack.

“We always wanted to bat first today. Actions speak louder than words and it is exactly how we wanted to play the game. We were able to execute it brilliantly. A job well done,” said the 28-year-old former West Indies skipper.

Pooran, however, narrowly missed being the Best Batsman of the tournament, finishing two runs behind Desert Vipers’ skipper James Vince, who won the Green Belt after scoring 356 runs from 12 matches. Pooran reached 354 runs in just 10 innings.

Pooran with kid-1708273421832
MI Emirates skipper Nicholas Pooran with his one-year-old daughter at the press conference after winning the ILT20 final. Image Credit: A.K.S Satish/Gulf News

“It’s a bittersweet moment for me,” he said who got his adorable one-year old daughter along for the press conference. “I see myself as a leader. I always wanted to lead from the front. By winning the ILT20 title, Mumbai have become the most successful cricket franchise, winning 10 titles now. But we could have been more clinical,” he added, referring to the five catches dropped during Dubai Capitals’ chase.

Thrilling tournament

Chasing a big target, Capitals could not get into the act and lost their way early, bringing an anti-climax to a thrilling tournament that saw last year’s finalists Gulf Giants and Desert Vipers not making the play-offs.

“We conceded far too many runs, maybe 170 was a par score but chasing 208 was a big task and early wickets also didn’t help the cause. Still, I am proud of the way we played the game, winning four games on the trot to make the final,” former New Zealand captain and Capitals’ batting coach Ross Taylor told the media.

The winners of season 2 not only walked away with the stunning trophy, which mirrors the rich Emirati culture and takes inspiration from UAE’s majestic icon and national bird — the falcon as well as UAE’s most famous landmark — the Burj Khalifa, but will also be adorned with diamond-studded pendant and exquisite bracelet.

Eye-catching trophy

Crafted with meticulous detail, each pendant boasts 240 diamonds, symbolising the legal deliveries in a T20 match. Three big diamonds on either sides represent the stumps on a cricket pitch. Names of all seven Emirates intricately etched around all corners of the pendant which is reserved for the victorious team, its weight mirrors that of a cricket ball.

Meanwhile, the diamond-studded bracelet, having five links, honours the owner of the triumphant team, signifying their conquest over five opponents.

UAE skipper Waseem once again proved his worth to clinch the Blue Belt for Best UAE player after scoring 321 runs in 12 innings to finish fourth in the list of best batters, while the competition for the White Belt was so intense that the winner had to be decided on a better economy rate. Waqar Salamkheil of MI Emirates bagged 17 wickets from 11 matches, while his teammate Fazalhaq Farooqi had bagged the same number of wickets from eight matches.

Sikandar Raza of Dubai Capitals walked tall to receive the Red Belt for the most valuable player through his spectacular all-round performance that lifted his team to many victories.