The Northern Warriors lifted the Abu Dhabi T10 trophy in the UAE capital on Saturday night, with Nicholas Pooran‘s men emphatic as they become the first two-time champions in the competition’s four-edition history.
Pooran, 25, follows in the footsteps of previous Warriors captain Daren Sammy in clinching T10 glory at his first experience leading a franchise, and represents a change in guard as he wrestled glory away from Dwayne Bravo‘s Delhi Bulls.
The eight-wicket win was comfortable in the end for the Warriors and Pooran was delighted in their desire that saw them come out on the right side of the final.
“I think this group wanted it much more than Delhi Bulls today,” Pooran said. “It’s been a tough one, but a really good opportunity for me. For someone this young, being able to captain a team of young players and experienced players, to get the respect of some players, learning all these things – it was a challenge but at the end of the day I really appreciated it.”
Bravo was quick to praise Pooran for his achievement, describing his pride in seeing the Trinidadian become the latest in a long list of Caribbean players to deliver success in the shortest format.
“Congratulations to the Warriors and a special congrats to Nicholas Pooran as a captain winning his first title,” Bravo said. “I’m very proud of him, proud of his leadership, proud of the way he cares about himself, the way he dominated the tournament with the bat and then to walk away as the champion captain. I’m very happy for him.
“I don’t think he has to follow in anybody’s footsteps, I think he’s already paving his own way for people to follow him. At the end of the day, he’s a special talent and we are all proud of him.”
The two teams had been the tournament’s most dominant forces, finishing level in the top two spots of both Group A and then the Super League to set up Friday’s Qualifier that saw the Bulls advance to the final after claiming a five-wicket victory. It left the Warriors needing to beat Team Abu Dhabi and they duly obliged, setting up a third meeting between the finalists.
Their record stood at one win apiece after the Warriors ran out victorious in the Group A encounter on day three, before Pooran’s Warriors claimed trilogy spoils, as well as the trophy.
Bravo lost just his second toss and was asked to set a total for the first time in the tournament, something his team looked decidedly uncomfortable doing. In the Warriors’ ranks, Pooran raised eyebrows by dropping icon player Wayne Parnell in favour of UAE seamer Waheed Ahmed; one of three local players selected in Pooran’s side, although Ahmed didn’t bowl a single ball.
Instead, it was Ahmed’s international team-mate Junaid Siddique that helped the Warriors seize early control, taking 2 for 19 from his two overs as he removed Rahmanullah Gurbaz (13) and Sherfane Rutherford (4) inside the first four overs of the match.
It sparked a flurry of Bulls wickets to fall, with 20-year-old Sri Lanka spinner Maheesh Theekshana‘s 3 for 14 wreaking havoc in the Bulls middle order. Theekshana accounted for Ravi Bopara (9) and Bravo (0) in the seventh over, while Dhananjaya Lakshan ended with 2 for 12 at the death as the Bulls could only manage 81 for 9 from their 10 overs.
Pooran took charge of the Warriors chase, opting to open the batting alongside UAE breakout Waseem Muhammad. But Fidel Edwards, on his 39th birthday, rolled back the years in a rapid second over of the chase that eventually saw him trap Pooran lbw for just 12. Edwards hit Pooran three times – including two brutal deliveries that thudded into the left-hand batsman’s right forearm – and was also lifted for six by his compatriot before removing him in a compelling over.
Waseem should have followed his captain back to the dugout in the very next over but Bopara shelled what was the 46th dropped catch at the Zayed Cricket Stadium littered with poor fielding over the course of the past 10 days.
It proved to be one of the most costly drops of the lot, as Waseem calmly grabbed control of the pursuit in making 27 off 22 deliveries and by the time he departed, the Warriors required a run-a-ball 20. Lendl Simmons (14*) and Rovman Powell (16*) eventually saw their team over the line to deny Bravo and coach Andy Flower a second successive Abu Dhabi T10 title.