Scintillating half-centuries from Nicholas Pooran and Andre Fletcher powered MI Emirates to an emphatic eight-wicket win over Dubai Capitals in the eliminator of the ILT20 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, here on Thursday night.
MI Emirates will now meet Gulf Giants in Qualifier 2 at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday. Though Dubai Capitals posted a challenging 151 for 5 in 20 overs, MI Emirates raced to the target in 16.4 overs through Pooran's unbeaten 66 off 36 balls with three boundaries and five sixes along with Andre Fletcher, who cracked 68 off 45 balls with four boundaries and four sixes.
Together they put on an unbeaten 104 runs partnership off just 61 balls for the third wicket. Dubai Capitals posted 151 on the board through George Munsey's 51 off 43 balls with six boundaries and a six.
Pooran and Fletcher, through their aggressive batting, squashed Dubai Capitals' hopes and won the match with 20 balls to spare. Earlier, MI Emirates had won the toss and elected to bowl.
Opening bowler Fazalhaq Farooqi found it hard to control and gave away 11 runs in the first over. Dubai Capitals opener Munsey picked the first boundary of the match through a square drive.
Opener Robin Uthappa too got a boundary playing Trent Boult wide of first slip but fell to the last ball of that over. Boult forced Uthappa to play into the hands of Pooran at first slip for 6.
Farooqi bowled a tight third over giving away just three runs. Boult bowled brilliantly and gave away only two runs in his fourth over and by the end of the powerplay, DC Capitals could muster only 28 runs.
UAE medium pacer Zahoor Khan too bowled tight giving just ten runs from his two overs. Rashid Khan, who joined the team for this match, was introduced for the ninth over and he yielded six runs.
By the halfway mark, Munsey and Sikandar Raza took the score to 59, and by the 11th over they had completed their 50 runs partnership. Munsey punished Farooqi for a boundary off the first ball of the 12th over and hit the second delivery for a six to deep forward square.
Off the third delivery, he earned a boundary to mid-wicket and another one to cover two balls later. Twenty-one runs came off that over. Rashid Khan was re-introduced for the 13th over and Munsey swept his third delivery for a boundary to reach his half-century in 42 balls.
Khan struck with the fourth ball to trap Munsey leg before for 51. Munsey and Raza had put on 78 runs in 64 balls for the second wicket. Rovman Powell joined Raza and took the Dubai Capitals score past the 100-run mark in 14.4 overs.
The last five overs began with Raza scooping Zahoor Khan for a boundary off the first ball of the 16th over and Powell hitting the third ball for a straight six. Raza picked another boundary off the last ball of that over.
When hopes of a big total began to brighten up, wickets began to fall in successive overs. Boult forced Raza pull into the hands of Bravo for 38 in the 17th over.
Skipper Yusuf Pathan lasted only five balls to score four runs before lifting Rashid Khan to Bravo at mid-off in the 18th over. Bravo clean bowled Powell with a full toss for 30 in the 19th over.
Dubai Capitals crossed the 150-mark in the last over. In reply, MI Emirates began their chase losing their consistent opener Muhammad Waseem to the third ball of the first over when he drove into the hands of Reece Topley at mid-off for 2.
Undaunted by the setback, Lorcan Tucker and opener Andre Fletcher kept the scoreboard moving. The powerplay yielded 41 runs. Dasun Shanaka provided the breakthrough in the seventh over trapping Tucker leg before for 10.
Nicholas Pooran, began in his usual aggressive style hitting Shanaka for two consecutive sixes. By the halfway mark MI Emirates strengthened their position with score reading 81 for 2 and needing another 71 runs.
Pooran and Fletcher hit sixes off Raza's 12th over to take the score past the 100-run mark. Fletcher reached his half-century in 33 balls while Pooran reached his 50 in 25 balls.
When Ball was hit by Pooran for a six and a boundary off successive balls in the 13th over and also Ravi Bopara for a six each by both the batsmen in the next over MI Emirates raced to their big win.
"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," said MI Emirates bowling coach Vinay Kumar.
Meanwhile, Dubai Capitals' captain Yusuf Pathan said, "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 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."
Brief scores: 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) lost to MI Emirates 152 for 2 in 16.4 overs (Andre Fletcher 68 not out, Nicholas Pooran 66 not out, Jake Ball 1/23) by 8 wickets.