T10 is brutal. On Tuesday night, Jason Roy played well for an unbeaten 57 off 33 balls but his knock ultimately lacked in short-form cricket's most important measure. There were zero sixes to his name.
Roy's Deccan Gladiators side put up a total of 108 for 3 that was then chased down by Chennai Brave. He scored more than anyone else in the game but the Player-of-the-Match award instead went to Dan Lawrence for his 40 off 18.
In pretty much every form of the game, Roy's knock would be praised but as it was, he was left out for Wednesday evening's clash against Bangla Tigers. He may have scored runs but to take up more than half of the innings and not clear the ropes once proved crucial. This is the one format that demands the batter to hit sixes.
Against the Tigers, the Gladiators were asked to chase and incidentally their target was exactly the same as they had set the previous night. That was largely thanks to another onslaught from Pakistan's Iftikhar Ahmed, who carried on from his unbeaten 83 off 30 deliveries on Tuesday, to finish not out on 54 off 21 deliveries.
But this time around, the Gladiators won with 23 balls to spare. Half-centuries for both Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Nicholas Pooran helped the reigning champions breeze to a total of 109 in just 37 deliveries.
They scored at nearly three runs a ball in what was a statement run-chase by Mushtaq Ahmed's side. A chase reminiscent of the ruthless manner in which they blasted 159 in last year's final and ahead of the final this Sunday, they again look like the side to be feared.
The chase wasn't meant to be that simple but Kohler-Cadmore and Pooran put on a show with 11 sixes between them. Pooran was on 20 off 10 before he took on Shakib Al Hasan and hit five sixes in an over to bring up a 16-ball half-century. And Kohler-Cadmore decided he wasn't missing out either. The next over, he hit Rohan Mustafa for 17 and brought up his half-century off 21 deliveries with then the winning runs too.
It was a stunning exhibition of hitting between the two men who stand clear at the top of the Abu Dhabi T10 run charts. Pooran's 19 fours and 21 sixes across six games puts him at No. 1 with 249 runs at an average of 62.25. Kohler-Cadmore isn't far behind with 217 runs at an average of 72.33. But perhaps most importantly, the pair are striking at well over 200.
"We had a poor game last time so a lot of the talk in the pre-match meeting was just about enjoying ourselves again," Pooran said post-match. And boy did he enjoy himself. Since stepping down from West Indies captaincy, he has somewhat rediscovered his joy for the game.
And you only had to look at the earlier game of Wednesday's triple-header to appreciate his six-hitting talent. It saw the lowest score of the tournament with Chennai Brave struggling to 71 for 6 against Team Abu Dhabi after losing their entire top order in the first over to Naveen-ul-Haq. The Afghanistan paceman removed Dan Lawrence and Sikandar Raza with his first two deliveries and finished his over by getting David Malan.
Remarkably, Team Abu Dhabi got off to a similar start as Alex Hales and James Vince were dismissed in the first over by Patrick Dooley before Sam Cook got Brandon King. But, from 1 for 3, Chris Lynn and Fabian Allen combined to take their side to their target and a third successive win.
With two days left in the league phase of the Abu Dhabi T10, the Gladiators sit top of the standings with Team Abu Dhabi one point behind them. And based on current form, they are both set to extend their stay till the weekend for the finals.