Feature

Morgan and Pollard sizzle as New York Strikers win five on the trot

Morgan scored a majestic 87* off 35 against Warriors, while Pollard made a seven-ball 26 against Bulls

Aadam Patel
01-Dec-2022
Eoin Morgan glances scored a 35-ball 87 against Northern Warriors  •  Abu Dhabi T10

Eoin Morgan glances scored a 35-ball 87 against Northern Warriors  •  Abu Dhabi T10

In terms of making statements, two wins in less than 24 hours is some way to go about business and that is exactly what New York Strikers have done at the Abu Dhabi T10.
Since losing their first game on opening night, Kieron Pollard's side have won five on the trot and after Eoin Morgan's majestic 87* off 35 deliveries on Wednesday night against Northern Warriors, it was the turn of Pollard for some last over heroics against Delhi Bulls.
With 22 runs needed off the last over in the first game of Thursday's triple-header, Pollard stepped up to the plate and hit Dwayne Bravo for two sixes and then two fours to seal yet another victory. Morgan may have done it on the last ball. Pollard ensured there was none of that drama and did it with two to spare.
In truth, a target of 113 should not have posed a serious challenge, especially the day after Strikers had chased down 144 and scored the highest total of the tournament thus far.
After winning the toss, Tom Banton's 46 off 23 allowed the Bulls reach three figures in a game where Rashid Khan made his eagerly-awaited debut for the Strikers franchise and without taking a wicket, showed his class with a tight couple of overs.
Morgan's heroics the night before meant that Strikers opted for the rather experienced if not unusual pairing of himself and Paul Stirling to open the batting. It was a strange sight for a man regarded in his prime as one of the great finishers but this is T10 and anything goes. The former England captain was in the runs again but failed to accelerate and when he was dismissed for 32, his side was still up against it, requiring 40 from 15.
Step forward Azam Khan and Pollard. The floating powerplay in the penultimate over went for 16 and it came down to the heavyweight contest between Pollard and Bravo and a battle of two men who know each other so well.
Bravo's first delivery was a slower ball and Pollard landed the first punch and when Bravo's second ball went the distance as well, the game was as good as done. By now, Bravo had lost his composure and his full toss was sent to the ropes, before Pollard finished the job with another boundary.
It was a knockout blow that was celebrated with a clenched fist and a welcome knock for the skipper after a barren run in the competition, despite the form of his side. Since scoring 45* on opening night in a losing cause, Pollard had managed just one run in three innings but Thursday night in Abu Dhabi offered a reminder of his ruthless finishing ability and why he is still feared by bowlers around the world. That knack of hitting sixes at will sets him apart and if he carries on over the next few days, then there is every chance that the Strikers strike gold at the first time of asking.
And while the Strikers seem to be hitting form at the right time, Team Abu Dhabi are also hitting the correct notes. It was the second successive night they restricted their opposition to a total of under 75 and again, they chased it down with relative ease.
Once the in-form Iftikhar Ahmed was dismissed for two, Bangla Tigers struggled to get going and eventually ended on 74 for five. Chris Lynn's unbeaten 34 navigated his side to the end before Brandon King hit the winning runs by sweeping Jake Lintott for six.
Friday night's last group game between the Strikers and Team Abu Dhabi is set to be a clash between two sides that are getting better and better as the tournament goes on and it would hardly be a surprise if the two teams were to meet again on finals weekend.

Aadam Patel is a freelance sports reporter who has written for BBC Sport, the Daily Mail, ESPNcricinfo, the Cricketer and other publications @aadamp9