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CPL 17: No easy ride for Knight Riders; buoyant Patriots bid for revenge in Tuesday playoff

They’re back at home and up against it! After a stellar run of qualifying matches, including eights wins, ended in defeat on Saturday, Dwayne Bravo’s Trinbago Knight Riders must get back to winning ways.

But it won’t be easy. And they may be quaking in their boots.

Photo: Trinbago Knight Riders bowler and captain Dwayne Bravo celebrates the wicket of Barbados Tridents batsman Kieron Pollard off the last ball during CPL action at the Queen’s Park Oval on 12 August 2017.
(Copyright Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Tomorrow, they take the field at the Brian Lara Stadium for the play-off game against Chris Gayle’s St Kitts and Nevis Patriots knowing that they still have a little wiggle room. They will be intent on not using it.

But it won’t be easy. And they may be quaking in their boots.

Although their goal will be to take the direct route into the final, defeat in tomorrow’s encounter would not be the end of the line for them. The shortcut is a repeat of their 14 August performance when Denesh Ramdin’s boundary-filled, unbeaten 57 enabled them to beat Gayle’s men by four wickets at the Queen’s Park Oval; the long road is a second successive defeat tomorrow and salvation through the repechage that is Thursday’s second eliminator, a match-up against the winner of Wednesday’s first eliminator.

Neither route is obstacle-free. In the August Oval encounter, the Patriots were without opener Evin Lewis. And the Patriots without Evin Lewis are not the same team as the Patriots with Evin Lewis

In the return game in Basseterre on 23 August, led by Darren Bravo, the Knight Riders out-Gayled Gayle’s Patriots. After the home side posted 162 for 3 on the back of a mighty 47-ball 93 from their skipper, rain reigned. Then, both gales done, the TKR skipper’s brother blasted 38 off ten balls with six sixes. Combined with Brendon McCullum’s 14-ball 40 (3 x 6, 5 x 4), it allowed the visitors to storm to an eight-wkt win.

But last evening at Kensington Oval, it was the Patriots’ Trinidad and Tobago left-hander who massacred the Barbados Tridents bowling. The unbridled assault moved his team into second place above Kumar Sangakkara’s Tallawahs and earned the Patriots a berth in tomorrow’s play-off.

Photo: West Indies opener  Evin Lewis hits a boundary to leg during the third of four T20I matches against Pakistan at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, on 1 April 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Jewel Samad)

Lewis, who made 97 off just 33 balls in his team’s score of 129 without loss off a mere seven overs, was twice denied enviable achievements–not to say records. On 49 off just 17 balls, he looked poised to equal the record for the fastest half-century in the CPL.

Pakistan’s Wahab Riaz accidentally overstepped and the ball sailed over the batsman’s head and well out of his reach.

A mere 16 balls later, with his team needing one run to seal a stunning victory and Lewis needing three runs for what would have been a thoroughly deserved 34-ball century, his countryman Kieron Pollard stepped up and over the popping crease…

…And the ball sailed over the batsman’s head and well out of his reach.

On Saturday, Pollard’s side had managed a narrow 16-run win over the Knight Riders to stay in contention. But they still entered yesterday’s game needing to win big to have any chance of making it into the top four by pipping the Amazon Warriors on net run rate.

Instead, thanks arguably to the rampant Lewis, whose onslaught included 11 sixes and six fours, they lost big. Massively.

Leading, some opine, to the sour grapes that provoked the final no-ball.

Photo: Barbados Tridents captain Kieron Pollard (left) prepares to bowl during CPL action against the Trinbago Knight Riders at the Queen’s Park Oval on 12 August 2017.
Looking on is opposing captain Dwayne Bravo.
(Copyright Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Saturday’s 16-run loss was only the second the Knight Riders have suffered in the current CPL season. And they now have a battle on their hands to stop the drip becoming a leak.

It won’t be easy. And they may be quaking in their boots.

Not only did the Tridents stop the Knight Riders momentum, they also put a spoke in their wheels. New Zealander McCullum has been a consistent contributor with the bat at the top of the TKR order; however, he will be making no on-the-field contribution tomorrow. The blow he received to his left wrist from Tridents pacer Wayne Parnell fractured it. And so, while his teammates battle for the chance to earn their second championship in the five-year history of the CPL, the senior pro will remain in the stands, mere interested spectator and supporter.

Should TKR fail to hold off the rampaging Patriots, whose “Universe Boss” captain was content to be a mere facilitator at the crease yesterday, they will on Thursday meet the winner of Wednesday’s first eliminator. That pits the Tallawahs, double championship winners in 2013 and 2016, against the Warriors, who have on three previous occasions ended up as the bridesmaids.

Photo: West Indies opener Chadwick Walton (top) collides with Pakistan’s Ahmed Shehzad while attempting a run during a T20I match at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad on 30 March 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/ Jewel Samad)

In the course of an unusually slow start to their season, the Guyanese outfit suffered a narrow two-run defeat at the hands of the visiting Jamaicans on 17 August. But, in the return encounter in Jamaica last Friday, they benefitted from a blitzkrieg similar to Lewis’. It came from their Jamaican opener Chadwick Walton (8 x 4, 6 x 6) and it boosted their net run rate into the black, leaving them sitting pretty.

The WI short-format opener put a proper pasting on the Tallawahs, racing to 84 off just 40 balls and powering his team to 150 off 10.3 overs and a 9-wkt win. The quick-fire victory left the Tridents with too much to do to close the run-rate gap and the strain took its toll against the Patriots yesterday, when recovery proved beyond them.

With a partisan but expectant home crowd backing them vociferously this week as they did consistently throughout the first week at the Queen’s Park Oval, Bravo’s men will be hoping that the Patriots’ challenge will not prove beyond them tomorrow.

Ditto the next challenge, whether it comes on Thursday or Saturday and no matter against which formidable opponent.

But they know it won’t be easy. And they must be quaking in their boots.

Photo: Cricket fans celebrate a thrilling CPL contest between Trinbago Knight Riders and St Kitts and Nevis Patriots at the Queen’s Park Oval on 14 August 2017.
TKR won by four wickets as they finished with 161 for 6 in the highest run chase of the season.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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8 comments

  1. Bravo going and give away that game tomorrow and that will hurt all part of my ass

  2. Sangakara being in form should worry anyone…lol

  3. Think TKR have played better than they themselves might have expected

    It’s close between them Patriots & Tallawah’s to eventually win title for sure though