With eight runs needed off the last nine balls at the Queen’s Park Oval last night, Jamaica Tallawahs’ Jonathan Foo hoists Trinbago Knight Riders’ skipper Dwayne Bravo high to long-on. Waiting for an eternity under the ball at the boundary’s edge, double CPL 2017 Man-of-the-Match Shadab Khan mistimes his leap and helps the ball over the ropes.
Suddenly, the hero of the first two victories against the St Lucia Stars is a villain. The spilled opportunity knocks the fight out of Bravo’s side, effectively hands the visitors a four-wicket win, their second successive one this season, and prevents the homesters from posting a third consecutive triumph.
Not that a Knight Riders victory would have been a foregone conclusion had the catch been taken. But they would once more have had the momentum they had contrived to squander earlier in the evening.
The head-to-head count now stands at eight to three in favour of the Tallawahs but the TKR players and fans know that the hosts let one get away.
“They throw away that game,” one upset female fan accurately summed up the TKR performance. “Everybody wanted to go for big shots when they could have gotten more singles.”
West Indies seamer Kesrick Williams and veteran wicketkeeper/batsman Kumar Sangakkara were instrumental in ensuring that the defending CPL champions earned full points on the night
The Vincentian bowler returned impressive figures of three for 26 while Sangakkara played a measured captain’s innings of 47 to help them maintain their dominance over the 2015 CPL champions.
Sent in, TKR reached 109 for 3 with only ten overs completed; incredibly, they were all out off the penultimate ball of the final over, having added a mere 38 runs for the loss of the last seven wickets in the last ten overs of their innings to finish on 147. The first 70 of those runs had come in the powerplay, openers Sunil Narine (23 off 11) and Brendon McCullum (16 off nine) and number three Colin Munro (41 off 25) together scoring 80 runs off only 45 balls.
After Munro departed, the pendulum swing in the Tallawahs’ favour as the last seven batsmen sent an SOS from this number: 556-5251, the individual scores reading 5, 5, 6, 5, 2, 5, 1.
Skipper Bravo and Monday’s heroes Javon Searles and Shadab were unable to give the innings the impetus it needed and the projected score of 200-plus anticipated by the home fans slowly retreated into the realm of fantasy.
Unlike on Monday when spin ruled the roost, it was Sangakkara’s pacers who did the trick for him. Williams, Mohammad Sami and debutant Odean Smith were all very stingy with their boundary offerings in the second half of the innings.
At the post-match briefing, skipper Bravo offered the unconvincing excuse that the Oval wicket was a difficult one to enter and play your shots right away. But, in his defence, it has to be said that his own innings suggested that that was not far from the truth.
In his brief stay at the crease after he walked out to the strains of his own “Champion” song, he was never able to set the crowd alight with any of his exquisite trademark extra-cover back-foot drives. Eventually, in the 17th over, he flailed at a widish Krishmar Santokie delivery and offered his opposite number an easy catch behind the wicket.
It did not take long for Bravo to become acutely aware that 147 was a far cry from the 200 they could–and should!–so easily have reached. Sangakkara, one of the best anchors in CPL cricket, and the flashy T&T opener Lendl Simmons, who can take a game away from the opponent in a jiffy, immediately saw to that.
Ruthlessly, the pair powered their way towards the TKR powerplay score of 70, the Tallawahs eventually falling just six runs short of that mark for the loss of Simmons’ wicket.
Simmons had showed that he needed no sighters, pumping left-arm spinner Khary Pierre over long-off for consecutive sixes off the first two balls he faced. In the following over, he smashed medium pacer Kevon Cooper for another six over long-off.
Sangakkara came to life in the second over, caressing three sweetly timed boundaries to different parts of the damp outfield off Searles.
Shadab and his spin twin Narine did their best, conceding 46 runs in their eight overs while accounting for three scalps, Simmons (38) and Andre McCarthy (3) in quick succession and then Rovman Powell (18), That slowed the leakage of runs. But Sangakkara carefully built 29- and 30-run partnerships with Powell and Shakib Al Hasan respectively to tilt the game back in the visitors’ favour.
Shadab and Bravo (DJ) would combine to see the back of the Tallawahs’ mainstay in the 17th over, the TKR skipper (47 off 41 balls) forcing him into a false stroke with a slower ball and the spinner snaffling the catch at long-off.
At 123 for 4, some 25 runs were still needed from 22 balls and the Knight Riders, players and fans, were suddenly back in the game. And they would have felt even better about their chances just a couple balls later when a solid, low straight drive by Jonathan Foo just clipped Bravo’s fingertips and narrowly missed the stumps at the non-striker’s end with Shakib hopelessly out of his ground.
The TKR skipper dropped dramatically to the ground holding his head, feeling perhaps that Fate was not riding on the Knights’ side on the night.
Kevon Cooper, who finished with figures of two for 25, picked spirits up again, accepting a simple return chance offered by Shakib on 16.
Only 14 runs were needed off the final two overs when the 26-year-old Foo top-edged the first ball of Bravo’s over above Denesh Ramdin’s head for four.
Shadab then spilled the not-too-easy chance, which drove the final nail into the TKR coffin on the night.
The homesters will hope to redeem themselves tomorrow night when they take on the Amazon Warriors from 9pm.
(Wednesday 9 August)
Trinbago Knight Riders 147 all out (Munro 41, DM Bravo 33, Williams 3-26);
Jamaica Tallawahs 148 for 6 (Sangakkara 47, Simmons 38, Narine 2-21);
Man-of-the-Match: Kesrick Williams.