March 22, 2023

Caribbean stars light up Sharjah sky on third day of T10

By Barny Read From ESPN

If there’s one thing the Caribbeans know how to do, it’s party. And on day three of this year’s T10 League they brought the house down in typically legendary fashion.

The first game of the day was settled by Pakhtoon’s Andre Fletchersending Rajputs’ Samit Patel over the rope to secure victory with two balls to spare. Finally, we had seen a game go into its final throes for the first time in the second edition as Fletcher whalloped five sixes and six fours in an unbeaten 68 from 27 balls.

And then the Northern Warriors blew Punjabi Legends away with a team stacked with West Indies stars.

In their 10 overs, the Warriors amassed the highest T10 total in history by finishing on 183 for 2 from their 10 overs. It was a remarkable performance that lit up the Sharjah night, led by the imperious Nicholas Pooran‘s 77 from 25 balls. His knock contained 10 sixes and two fours and formed part of an opening partnership of 107 runs with Lendl Simmons.

By the time both had departed, at 130 for 2 and 11 balls remaining, Punjabi Legends would have thought of getting themselves back in the game.

It was not to be, though, as Andre Russell amassed 38 in nine balls, hitting six of those deliveries for sixes. There was no respite at the other end, Rovman Powell contributing 21 more from five balls with two fours and another brace of sixes.

By the time Russell produced a ridiculous one-handed catch to remove local boy Shaiman Anwar, it was just another routine piece of brilliance you could almost dismiss considering what preceded it.

The Warriors were blown away in their opening match and playing with such freedom and abandon won’t come off every time out but when it does it will be cruel on the opposition.

Simmons, who made 36 off 21 balls – a knock dwarfed by the ridiculous hitting of his team-mates – said it was just this entertaining form of exhibitionism that he and his West Indies team-mates in the Warriors set-up thrive in producing.

“I think this is our game. We just like hitting the ball, we like hitting sixes. I love this format, you can bat free and if you get out it doesn’t matter,” he said.

“Pooran played a tremendous innings and we have a good batting line-up so we can go hard from ball one. You see the power we have so once we get a good start, we have good batting to come.”

Captain Darren Sammy echoed those views, delighted that his side embraced the free spirit that is T10.

“We said in the dressing room that we have the power and today we executed really well,” he said. “What T10 does, it doesn’t give you the time to think. Batsmen are free to go out and express themselves and today we did that and it flowed into the bowling.”

Assistant coach Robin Peterson echoed those views saying his side wanted to show how entertaining they can be after the disappointment of defeat last time out.

“We just wanted to play with flair and freedom and them to show their skills. We all know they can hit the ball powerfully and that’s what they showed.”

He’s not lying and – although it feels like stating the bleeding obvious – it still doesn’t do this performance justice.

The size and manner of this result seemed to mock the opening game’s competitiveness. Laughing at its attempt at entertaining in the name of ‘taking it to the wire’ instead of ‘taking them to the cleaners’.

Fletcher’s clutch performance that kicked us off featured in a game that showed promising signs of greater competitiveness. But in a tournament where the pendulum swings so drastically and single deliveries are capable of jolting matches from their hinges, games going to the wire are few and far between.

It may not satiate those hoping for a tense, close finish but if teams come off like the Warriors did here, then we will definitely have some fun along the way and that’s what T10 is all about.

IMAGE: Nicholas Pooran goes for a big one

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