For the first ten overs of their innings in their penultimate qualifying round game against Dwayne Bravo’s Trinbago Knight Riders at Kensington Oval in Barbados last night, Kieron Pollard’s Barbados Tridents looked dead and almost buried.
But a fighting record eighth wicket partnership of 47 between Wayne Parnell (44, 35 balls, 3 x 4, 1 x 6) and Shamar Springer (21, 22 balls, 2 x 4) enabled them to reach 136 for 9 at the end of their 20 overs.
Then Man-of-the-match Parnell added injury to that insult by forcing the dangerous Brendon McCullum to retire in the fifth over and claiming three wickets into the bargain. That made the modest total defensible and earned the Tridents a vital two points with a narrow 16-run win.
It was not, however, the hugely convincing win the Bajans needed to leave them well placed to grab the final eliminator place from the Guyana Amazon Warriors. Chadwick Walton’s merciless dismantling of the Jamaica Tallawahs on Friday evening had made the equation more than daunting, a -0.5 net run rate needing to be converted into a positive 0.8 or better.
But Pollard’s men gave it their best shot. Eventually.
Invited by Bravo to have first use of a well-grassed pitch, the Tridents lost hard-hitting opener Dwayne Smith to the second ball of the night. And when Kane Williamson fell to the last ball of the next over, bowled by Javon Searles, the writing seemed to be on the wall.
Two run-outs and a wicket by Shadab Khan left the home side in deep trouble at 62 for 6 at the end of the ninth over. And when the Pakistani leg-spinner, bowling the tenth, induced an edge from Pollard and Bravo snaffled the chance on the second attempt at slip, the Trinbago skipper celebrated with a Usain Boltesque 200 bend that took him from slip to short third man and thence to the point boundary.
It was, he seemed to think, done and dusted. Perhaps, psychologically, he took his foot off Pollard’s throat. Understandably.
For several weeks now, Trinbago, riding high on an unassailable 16 points at the start of the night, have been assured of a place in this week’s play-offs.
Parnell, Springer and the Tridents had no such luxury; they knew they had to fight for their lives. The former West Indies Under-19 allrounder cobbled together a valuable 21 before he holed out to Ashley Nurse in the 18th over. Parnell remained unbeaten at the end, his 44 containing just three smashed boundaries and one massive six off Shadab.
But the South African was not done for the night. In his first two overs, he dismissed potential match-winners Sunil Nadine and Colin Munro. Then, he accounted for McCullum, the other prolific Knight Riders batsman, with a short rising delivery that whacked him just above the left wrist. The doughty New Zealander eventually retired hurt; with him went the visitors’ best chance of denying the home side a morale-boosting—more than likely no more!—win.
Late on, Bravo (22, 24 balls, 2 x 4, 1 x 6) and Searles (28, 21 balls, 3 x 4, 1 x 6) threatened to take the game away from Pollard’s men after the skipper had claimed Denesh Ramdin (8 off 9 balls) and Shadab (5 off 7 balls) to leave the Knights Riders unsteadily placed at 72 for 5 after 12 overs.
But Springer claimed Bravo’s scalp and celebrated with a wonderfully lithe chest roll. Then, with TKR needing 45 from the last four overs, Parnell returned to account for Nurse with the last ball of his fourth and final over, which cost 19 runs.
And, with only number 11 Anderson Phillip for company, Searles chanced his arm once too often and was caught by the substitute fieldsman running back from short third man.
The Knight Riders will now wait to see whether Pollard and co can repeat last night’s heroics against Chris Gayle’s St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in tonight’s final qualifying match. If they do, the Jamaica Tallawahs will be TKR’s opponents in Tuesday’s play-off at home in the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba. And the Patriots will meet the Amazon Warriors in Wednesday’s first eliminator.
Should the Patriots prevail, however, they will be the ones seeking to deny the home side entry into Saturday’s final by the direct route.
TKR will only be remotely interested in these results. Whoever wins or loses this evening’s game or Wednesday’s eliminator, Bravo’s concern will be to ensure that, after making all the early running, the Knights Riders produce their A-game this week, which is when it really matters.
Barbados Tridents 136 for 7 (20 overs)
(Wayne Parnell 44*, Shamarh Springer 21, Nicholas Pooran 19, Shadab Khan 2/13, Javon Searles 1/18)
Trinbago Knight Riders 120 (18.2 overs)
(Javon Searles 28, Dwayne Bravo 22, Brendon McCullum 26, Wayne Parnell 3/31, Wahab Riaz 2/24, Kieron Pollard 2/26)
Result: BT won by 16 runs.