Breezy knocks by consistent opener Muhammad Waseem and skipper Kieron Pollard backed by Dwayne Bravo's three-wicket spell carried MI Emirates into the playoffs with an impressive 18-run win over Abu Dhabi Knight Riders in the 26th match of the DP World ILT20 here.
Abu Dhabi Knight Riders' winless run continued after they let MI Emirates post 180 for 4 in 20 overs through some poor fielding and unimpressive bowling at the Zayed Cricket Stadium on Friday night.
Dropping Waseem thrice, they let the high-scoring UAE opener flourish and hit 60 runs off 43 balls with six sixes and one boundary. Skipper Pollard's cameo of 43 off just 17 balls with four boundaries and three sixes swelled the total.
Chasing the target, Abu Dhabi were bowled out for 162 in 19.2 overs with Dwayne Bravo producing a fine spell of 3 for 37, backed by Imran Tahir (2-20) and Zahoor Khan (2-33).
Andre Russell's fighting knock of 42 off 22 balls with five boundaries and two sixes went in vain for the hosts. Abu Dhabi Knight Riders won the toss and elected to bowl. Their opening bowler and medium pacer Akeal Hosein gave away just a single in the first over.
Opener Andre Fletcher got the first boundary of the day off Marchant de Lange through an edge over the slips. Muhammad Waseem too scored a boundary off Hosein past point.
They scored 29 runs in the Power-play. In the seventh over, skipper Sunil Narine provided the breakthrough having Fletcher caught and bowled for 22. Muhammad Waseem got a life, when batting on 14, as Brandon King at backward point dropped him off Russell.
At the halfway mark, MI Emirates was 55 for 1 with Lorcan Tucker too picking the gaps correctly. In the 13th over, Waseem hit Matiullah Khan for two successive sixes to score 16 runs off the over.
Tucker too hit Hosein for a six over long-on. Waseem then went on to hit two successive sixes off Sabir Ali to reach his half-century in 38 balls. This was followed by another six off Narine over square leg.
He also smashed another six to mid-wicket in the same over and also escaped being caught again at cover. Tucker who took 23 balls to score 33 runs retired out to accelerate the run flow.
Nicholas Pooran replaced him at the crease but Waseem on 60 got clean bowled to the first ball of the 16th over by Marchant de Lange. Pollard joined Pooran and tried to accelerate the run flow.
He picked two successive boundaries off Russell's first and second deliveries of the 18th over. He also hit the fourth delivery for a six to long on, then edged the fifth for a boundary, and then hit the last ball for a six to long.
Twenty-six runs were scored off that over. Marchant de Lange was hit for boundary to backward square while Pooran hit him for a six to deep mid-wicket. Pollard hit Sabir Ali, who bowled the last over, for a straight six and then fell edging the next ball to wicketkeeper Joe Clarke for 43.
Pooran and Pollard thus added 56 runs in just 25 balls. Pooran remained unbeaten on 10 and MI Emirates posted an impressive 180 for 4. Chasing the target, Abu Dhabi lost opener Paul Stirling to the second ball of the first over from Trent Boult for a duck caught by Pollard at mid-off.
Boult began with a wicket maiden as well. Brandon King, who joined opener Joe Clarke, hit Boult for a six and two boundaries but fell to Imran Tahir in the fourth over caught by Fletcher at deep mid-wicket for 20.
Joe Clarke and Charith Asalanka took the score to 50 by the end of the Powerplay. Tahir struck again with the third ball of the second over, trapping Asalanka who went for a sweep, missed and got trapped leg before for 17.
Andre Russell walked in and hit the second ball he faced from Tahir for a six and then slashed Fazalhaq Farooqi for another six. MI Emirates' champion bowler Dwyane Bravo struck in his first over clean bowling Joe Clarke for 22.
Abu Dhabi went past the 100-run mark in 10.4 overs with Russell scoring two consecutive boundaries off Bravo. UAE's Zahoor ended Abu Dhabi's challenge in the 13th over by taking the valuable wicket off Russell caught by Waseem at mid-wicket for 42.
After Russell, wickets began to fall in quick succession. This included Narine caught behind off Farooqi for 11, Hosein caught and bowled by Bravo for a duck, and Connor Esterhuizen caught by Fletcher at mid-wicket off Zahoor Khan for 17.
De Lange and Matiullah Khan held on but Bravo had Khan caught by Pollard at mid-off for 2. Mousley bowled De Lange for 19 to bowl out Abu Dhabi.
MI Emirates 180/4 in 20 overs (Andre Fletcher 22, Muhammad Waseem 60, Lorcan Tucker 33, Kieron Pollard 43) bt Abu Dhabi Knight Riders 162 all out in 19.2 overs (Joe Clarke 22, Andre Russell 42, Imran Tahir 2-20, Zahoor Khan 2-33, Dwayne Bravo 3-37).