New York Strikers' skipper Kieron Pollard and Azam Khan, displaying the skills that make them two of the finest hitters in limited-over cricket, pulled off an exciting seven-wicket win over Delhi Bulls with two balls to spare in the 23rd match on the ninth day of the Abu Dhabi T10 at the Zayed Cricket Stadium here on Thursday.
Though New York Strikers needed 46 runs from the last 18 balls while chasing Delhi Bulls' total of 112 for 6, Pollard scored an unbeaten 26 off 7 deliveries with three boundaries and two sixes and Azam Khan remained unbeaten on 37 off 22 balls with four boundaries and a six to win the last over thriller in front of a large holiday crowd.
Eoin Morgan had set the tempo for New York Strikers' win by scoring 32 off 21 balls with three sixes. Delhi Bulls had won the toss and elected to bat. New York Strikers' opening bowler Akeal Hosein picked an early wicket by having Rilee Rossouw caught by Eoin Morgan at extra cover off the third ball of the match for a duck.
Tom Banton hit the very first ball he faced, reverse sweeping with confidence, for a six. Stuart Binny struck with the first ball of the second over by getting Rahmanullah Gurbaz to miscue his shot and get caught by Paul Stirling.
Banton got his second six in the third over off Hosein's last delivery when Pollard dropped the ball over the long-off boundary line. Binny, who bowled the fourth over, was hit for two consecutive sixes off the third and fourth deliveries.
Off the fifth delivery, David took a boundary to the backward point but with the sixth delivery, Binny struck. He forced David edge to Kesrick Williams for 23. Star bowler Rashid Khan, who had joined the New York Strikers team for his first match, gave only singles off the first five deliveries but Najibullah Zadran hit the last ball through the extra cover for a boundary.
The sixth over was an eventful one from Jordan Thompson. Zadran hit the third delivery for a boundary but fell to the fourth ball caught by Pollard at long-on for 12. Off the last ball, Banton picked a boundary to square leg.
With the score reading 65 for 4 and only three more overs to go, skipper Pollard introduced himself. Banton edged his second delivery for a boundary and pulled the fourth ball to the square leg for another boundary.
Banton continued to hit freely and swung Thompson's first delivery of the eighth over for a six. He smashed the second delivery through extra cover for another boundary. Banton's fine knock of 46 ended when Thompson had him leg before while attempting a reverse sweep.
His knock off 23 balls had four boundaries and three sixes. With the score reading 90 for 5, the question was how much more would Delhi Bulls score. New York Strikers promptly introduced Rashid Khan for the ninth over and Bulls skipper Dwayne Bravo edged Rashid for a boundary.
Delhi Bulls could get only eight runs off that over. In the last over, Imad Wasim hit Kesrick Williams for a six-to-long leg. Off the fifth delivery, Williams had Wasim out, caught by Muhammad Waseem at long on for 14.
Aayan Afzal Khan thick-edged the last ball for a boundary for a total of 112 for 6. New York Strikers began their chase with Eoin Morgan, the hero of their last match against Northern Warriors through an unbeaten 87, opening the innings with Paul Stirling.
Morgan got dropped by Rillee Rossouw off the first ball from Imad Wasim at the backward square leg. Morgan celebrated his luck by hitting Wasim's fourth delivery for a six to long-on. Morgan got another life off the fifth delivery when Aayan Khan dropped him at point.
Falhaq Farooqi, who bowled the second over, got Stirling out pulling to Rossouw at mid-wicket for 5. Richard Gleeson had Muhammad Waseem cut to Rahmanullah Gurbaz at sweeper cover for 1. When Falhaq Farooqi bowled another good over, except for giving away a boundary to Azam Khan, the required run rate began to rise to over 13 an over.
From the fifth over, Azam began to hit out. He hit Delhi Bulls skipper Dwayne Bravo to midwicket for a six and sliced the next to third man for a boundary. At the halfway mark, New York Strikers were 46 for 2, needing another 67 from the remaining five overs.
UAE pacer Shiraz was introduced for the sixth over. He bowled the first three deliveries accurately giving only singles. The fourth one was a full toss and Morgan hit him for a six to mid-wicket. Still, only 11 runs came off that over.
New York Strikers' hopes rested on this pair with 56 runs needed from the last 24 balls. Gleeson bowled a brilliant seventh over, giving away no boundaries. The holiday crowd began to cheer with 46 runs needed from 18 balls.
Morgan swung Imad Wasim's first delivery over mid-wicket for a six. With the third delivery, Wasim picked the prize wicket of Morgan caught by substitute Jordan Cox at long off. Wasim gave away only 10 runs off that over.
Needing 34 runs from 12 balls Shiraz was called to bowl the ninth over. All eyes were on Azam and Kieron Pollard, two of the finest hitters in the game. Azam Khan hit the first delivery over the bowler's head for a boundary.
The second delivery too was hit by Azam for another boundary to extra cover. Azam took a single off the third and Pollard hit the fourth delivery for a boundary to the backward square leg. After a single to the fifth by Pollard and a double from Azam off the last ball, 16 runs came off that over.
Now the fans cheered for the batsmen asking for sixes with 20 runs needed off the last over. Bravo, who introduced himself for the final over, was hit for a six by Pollard to mid-wicket. Pollard also hit the second delivery with the awesome power to long on for another six.
The third ball was dispatched to the mid-wicket for a boundary. The fourth ball raced to the mid-wicket fence and New York Strikers won the match with two balls to spare.
New York Strikers bt Delhi Bulls by 7 wkts. Delhi Bulls 112/6 in 10 overs (Tom Banton 46, Tim David 23, Stuart Binny 2-27, Jordan Thompson 2-25) New York Strikers 113/3 in 9.4 overs (Eoin Morgan 32, Azam Khan 37n.o, Kieron Pollard 26n.o) Player of the Match: Kieron Pollard.