Having already locked their place in the ILT20 play-offs with a clinical victory in their penultimate league stage match on Friday, MI Emirates will now take on Dubai Capitals on Sunday, with one eye on seizing one of the top two slots in the points table.
With five wins from nine games, MI Emirates are presently at the third spot with 11 points in their bank so far, and a win over the Capitals will get them to 13 points, and perhaps climb to the second spot, in case the Gulf Giants (currently 2nd with 12 points) are defeated by the Desert Vipers in the top-of-the-table clash on Saturday.
Seasoned West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, who led from the front with the ball in the previous meeting by grasping three wickets, is pleased that the team has worked to cross the first phase but at the same time prefers to take one game at a time, and stay concentrated.
“Very happy for all of us. This is the first phase we wanted (to reach) and qualify. Congratulations to the entire team, it was a very well deserved victory,” said the Trinidadian, who vaulted to the second spot among the highest wicket-takers list in the ILT20, with 11 scalps to his name so far.
“We have a very well balanced team, it’s a good mix of youth and experience. For me it’s just about staying healthy, I still enjoy my cricket and competing. This is a tournament I was looking forward to because of the top quality of players, and playing in the UAE is always special. Happy but still a long way to go,” he added.
Remarking on his own form, Bravo who led the MI Emirates’ defence of 180 by returning with figures of 3/37, attributed his triumph to the hard yards he puts in at the nets before every contest and his knowledge of bowling in such circumstances for close to two decades.
“I have been doing this for the last 18 years. During practice, I keep working on different deliveries because I know during the game I have to use any of those depending on the match scenario. Preparation is the key for me and in the nets I feel good working on my yorkers both over and around the wicket, slower balls, using my variations, so that in game scenario I can decide what to bowl and which is the right delivery at that time,” he said.
The 39-year-old also showered compliments on the local boys, especially the duo of opener Muhammed Waseem and paceman Zahoor Khan, for grabbing the prospect with both hands and making crucial contributions to the team’s cause throughout the period of the ILT20.
“Having Waseem at the top of the order is a bonus for us as a local player. In every tournament across the world you need good local players, and he’s one of the best. He can easily be one of the best in international cricket, he has the ability to play spin, play fast bowling, he’s dangerous. I am happy that he’s scoring big runs,” Bravo said.
He added, “Zahoor also had a very brilliant game, he’s been among the wickets using all his skills, Yorkers, slower balls, all in all it’s good to have the UAE players contributing to the wins. It makes our team stronger.”
MI Emirates head coach Shane Bond made his purposes clear at the post-match presser last night, and hoped that his side stayed free of any injury concerns as they have found a more or less fixed unit heading into the business end of the tournament.
“Over the last few games, we had to make changes in the combinations. I hope from here on we can have a settled line-up and remain injury-free and we can challenge for the trophy,” he said.
“The big one is taking a step forward to take one of the top two spots. Just keep the pressure on the Gulf Giants, and stay behind them !,” Bond said on a lighter note.