It was an exciting competition, but MI New York’s incredible playoff run and Pooran’s unbeaten 55-ball 137 in the final threw everything else into shadow.
Nicholas Pooran saved his best for last, with two centuries and four four-wicket hauls
Nicholas Pooran saved his best for last, with two centuries and four four-wicket hauls. The final week of the first Major League Cricket (MLC) was packed with exciting play, culminating in the crowning of MI New York as winners. The final between the Seattle Orcas and New York Mets was watched by a sellout crowd of roughly 7,000 people in Dallas. And they witnessed a one-man show as Pooran, standing in for the injured Kieron Pollard as captain, hammered an unbeaten 55-ball 137 to add another prize to Mumbai’s already gleaming cabinet. Here’s how MLC’s last week went down:
Pooran does poor things.
Let’s start at the end.
Five IPL titles, two Champions League T20 titles, one Women’s Premier League title, and now the MLC title—the Mumbai Indians teams are not known as serial winners for nothing, and they again proved that the finish matters more than anything else. MI New York managed just two wins in their five league games and only qualified for the playoffs because of their net run rate. But then they won three games in five days, ending with a win over the Seattle Orcas, the most consistent team of the tournament.
It was by no means an easy chase in the final.
When summoned to bat, Seattle scored 183 for 9, with Quinton de Kock leading the way with a 52-ball 87. Only once in MLC history has a target of more than 184 been chased down: by Seattle against New York earlier this week in the final league game of the season.
New York lost Steven Taylor and Shayan Jahangir early in the final. But then Pooran stepped up, and Grand Prairie Stadium was in for a treat. He hammered the following two balls for sixes after blocking the first. After that, there was no stopping him, as Pooran hit his fifty in just 16 balls, the fastest of the tournament. He then hit three sixes in Andrew Tye’s first over and quickly reached a century off only 40 balls, the fastest in MLC.
The six-meter radar was put to the test, with spectators ducking for cover as Pooran smashed nine fours and 13 sixes to get New York across the line with 24 balls to spare.
The winning shot, a fall, and a shriek
The victory moment of any final is likely to stay with people the longest.
The winning shot in this scenario was possibly the most underwhelming. Cameron Gannon threw a precise yorker on the leg stump with New York needing four runs to win. Pooran was able to bring his bat down in time and get it through the short fine-leg. He lost his balance in the process and ended up flat on his back on the deck, although he seemed to be yelling in glee the entire time to announce the victory.
Would he have wanted a more graceful conclusion? Likely. But does it really matter? Absolutely not.
Welcome to the Boult show.
While Pooran finished the tournament with the most runs, the fact that New York made it to the final was due to Trent Boult cranking it up a notch with ball and bat. In the first week and a half of MLC, he took seven wickets and scored nine runs. He more than doubled the count on both charts in the last week.
He began by hitting an unblemished 20 off eight balls versus Seattle, an inning that featured the best unorthodox strokes, clean singles, and knowledgeable inside-edges. He followed that up with a four-wicket haul, in which he demonstrated his mastery of the old ball by delivering slower knuckle balls to perfection.
Boult broke the back of Washington Freedom’s chase in the Eliminator, going 4 for 20 as New York defended 141. A hat-trick of four-fors followed in Qualifier 2, where he went 4 for 24 to clean up the Texas Super Kings for 158, a mark that New York easily met.
Boult took 3 for 34 in the final to finish the competition with 22 wickets in eight outings at an average of 10.36 and an economy of 7.39.
Klaasen ticks off another first.
Pooran’s century in the final was not the tournament’s first three-figure score. That accomplishment was accomplished earlier this week by Seattle’s Heinrich Klaasen against New York. With Seattle chasing 195, Klaasen blazed an unbeaten 44-ball 110 to lead his team to a two-wicket victory with four balls to spare. He smashed nine fours and seven sixes, including a 26-run over against Rashid Khan. Klaasen needed 41 balls to get his century, one more than Pooran needed in the final.
Domestic watch: Cameron Gannon
Gannon concluded the tournament as the competition’s second-highest wicket-taker, trailing only Boult, with 11 wickets at 17.36 and a 7.39 economy. He took a wicket in every game he played until the final, and he was extremely impressive throughout. He has the height and the ability to generate good speeds, and he had the most batters in difficulty throughout. For his efforts, Gannon was named Player of the-Tournament.
The hits and the misses
Pooran was one of the biggest hitters, with 388 runs in eight games at 64.66 and a strike rate of 167.24. He failed to reach double figures in only one of his eight innings, but he did score two fifties and a century. Quinton de Kock also performed admirably with the bat, while Boult shone best with the ball.
In terms of mistakes, Faf du Plessis of the Texas Super Kings was the biggest letdown, allowing 46 runs in seven innings. He had two ducks and only reached double figures twice in seven attempts.
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