Pollard XI beats Bravo XI in first-ever Fan-Driven Cricket Match
Port of Spain, 1st September: Kieron Pollard, a man of few words, summed up the first ever cricket match in history featuring the Fan Decision System perfectly when he said "At the end of the day, fans are the ones who make cricket the sport it is. It was unique to see them in control of the action today."
He was talking about the historic day at Queens Park Oval, which played host to the first ever fan-driven cricket match between Bravo XI and Pollard XI, where people from around the world dictated the action in the middle using The Selector App on their Mobile phones.
The exhibition match (The Selector Fan Cup) on Sunday (September 1) was won by Pollard XI by 47 runs. They bowled the opponents out for just 84 in 19.1 overs in a chase of 132.
One of the biggest highlights of the match was Trinidad & Tobago's favourite son Brian Charles Lara gracing the occasion as a player for the first time in many years.
DJ Bravo, who was earlier expected to lead Bravo XI, picked up a niggle due to which he couldn't participate, but intently followed the proceedings from the sideline. Lara was picked to lead in his absence, and even though the legend's stay in the middle lasted only 27 balls, it was a treat for the fans to watch the great man return to the middle.
At the toss, Pollard won and agreed to the fans-decision to bat first on a slow, dry surface.
Mohammad Hasnain, the strapping Pakistani pacer, was picked by fans to open the bowling for Bravo XI. The youngster did a great job, giving away only nine runs in his 3.1 overs, and picking up a wicket. The pressure Hasnain built with his economic spell helped Javon Searles, his new-ball partner, dismiss Denesh Ramdin and Leonardo Julien in his first spell.
Mark Deyal (13) and Nicholas Alexis (11) consolidated for a bit, but Dexter Sween, DJ Bravo's half-brother, unleashed a fabulous spell to peg them back once again. Sween had Deyal and Pollard (0) dismissed off back to back deliveries before going on to bag the wickets of Seekkugge Prasanna and Khary Pierre. He finished with exceptional figures of 4/32 in his 4 overs.
Jimmy Neesham, batting at No. 6, hit four boundaries in his knock of 26 off 19, with Jalarnie Seales (20 off 18) and Anderson Phillip (19 off 12) helping Pollard's team post a competitive total.
In the second dig, it was Lendl Simmons and Isiah Rajah who were chosen by the fans to open the batting. Both, however, fell cheaply, with Pierre and Neesham sending them back inside the sixth over.
At No. 3, it was Lara who came out to bat amidst loud cheers from the fans who had come over to enjoy the match on a bright Sunday afternoon. On a slow track, the 50-year-old Lara understandably found it difficult to get going straightaway. But the stylish left-hander looked fit as ever, running his singles and twos with ease.
Wickets kept tumbling at the other end, with Amir Jangoo (4) and Tion Webster (3) also failing to get to double figures.
Lara played a classic late cut to get his first boundary in the ninth over, but the very next ball spun enough to come crashing through his defence. It was Russ Jaggesar who got his wicket, before cleaning up the middle and lower order with 3/17 in his 3.1 overs.
Pierre was the one who built the initial pressure on Bravo XI. The wily off-spinner gave just 7 runs in his four overs, his efforts including the solitary wicket of Simmons early on.
Neesham, freshly back from New Zealand's heroic World Cup campaign, looked in great touch with the ball. He bagged 3/18 in four overs, getting the ball to zip around at a good pace.
Partnerships were missing in the chase, and apart from Javon Searles's 31-ball 35, there weren't many notable performances with the bat from Bravo XI. Pollard's men capitalised on the situation and it was only a matter of time before they wrapped things up with five balls to spare.
Lara was the most popular (most voted-for) player in the game, and for his all-round show, Neesham was adjudged Man of the Match by the voters on The Selector App.
Venky Mysore, the CEO of Knight Riders Sports, handed the trophy to Pollard to mark a fitting end to what was a unique cricketing experience for the fans and cricketers alike.
Pollard XI 131 in 18.1 overs (Jimmy Neesham 26, Jalarnie Seales 20; Dexter Sween 4/32, Javon Searles 2/38) beat Bravo XI 84 in 19.1 overs (Javon Searles 35, Brian Lara 12; Jimmy Neesham 3/18, Russ Jaggesar 3/17) by 47 runs.
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