The Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) produced a magnificent display in both innings to doom the St Lucia Stars to a 101 run defeat and an all too familiar opening game loss in the 2018 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) competition last night at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain.
TKR powered to their second highest CPL total—13 runs shy of their highest total of 208 versus the Jamaica Tallawahs—and took command of the game from the off. Colin Munro was once again the architect with an educated knock of 68 to set the stage for a masterclass in spin bowling from the TKR duo of Sunil Narine and Fawad Ahmed.
The score of 195 is the highest score ever posted in the CPL at the Queen’s Park Oval and hometown hero Denesh “Shotta” Ramdin showed his class yet again in front of an exuberant home crowd with a timely 50 from 27 balls.
“Look at the innings Ramdin played, he is a totally different player when he is playing for TKR than when he is playing for other teams,” said Bravo, in the post-game press conference. “I’m happy to see someone like Ramdin amongst the runs again. Colin Munro [and] everybody chipped in [too]. It’s a great team effort. “
The visitors in fact began well and raced away to 32 off the first two overs with Andre Fletcher doing the most damage against a wayward Shannon Gabriel.
He didn’t last too long after though, with young pace debutant Ali Khan knocking back his off stump to send him on his way with 19 runs off 11 balls.
Bravo singled out Ali Khan was one to watch in the pre match build up and the 27 year old USA international did not disappoint.
“Not much people would know of Ali Khan but I saw him in different tournaments—one in the US open and one in Toronto where he played with my team,” said Bravo. “I believe in him. I call him a young Waqar Younis. I believe his action is very similar…
“[Ahmed and Khan] are world class players…They play with heart and soul.”
Stars captain Kieron Pollard would have hoped for similar performances from his new recruits but ended up receiving the exact opposite on the day.
The pressure appeared to get the better of Australian opener David Warner—coming off a tumultuous 12 months on and off the field—when Javon Searles knocked back the top of his middle stump and sent him back to the pavilion for nine.
By this time, the Stars had lost all their twinkle and were falling all over the place. In a catastrophic slide, Warner was the first of 5 wickets lost with barely 18 more runs added to the score.
Narine was at his mercurial best and, without last season’s star Shadab Khan at the other end, he found an equally able maestro in newcomer, Ahmed.
With Fawad’s first CPL delivery, he bowled Simmons through the gate with a googly before following that up with the wicket of Hong Kong-born Mark Chapman a few deliveries later.
Captain Pollard tried to steady the ship with a knock of 12 off 27; but by the time Fawad claimed Qais Ahmad in the 13th over, it seemed all done and dusted for the Stars.
It was a comprehensive victory—the foundation of which was laid earlier in the evening.
After losing openers Chris Lynn and Narine cheaply, Munro steadied the ship alongside Brendon McCullum. Aided with a bit of fortune, Munro began to lay down the law against 17 year old Afgan leg spinner Qais Ahmed.
Munro blasted three boundaries in a row before going down on one knee and launching the teenager flat for a six over deep midwicket. And, after a good opening over, Qais went for 20 runs in his second.
Welcome to the CPL young man—signed Colin Munro.
A year ago, the Kiwi pair put on 132 runs in a partnership against the Stars en route to a Knight Rider victory. However history was not on McCullum’s side this time around and he ended up being Pollard’s second wicket on the night.
The big man removed McCullum’s middle stump with a full one and wheeled away in celebration as TKR were left at 88 for 3 at that juncture.
Another new Stars addition, Kesrick Williams then got into the act and found redemption, after an early dropped catch and some misfields, by removing the disappointing Darren Bravo for a duck.
TKR stuttering a bit at 91 for 4 off 11 overs but their leading runscorer last term, Munro, was still at the crease. He was then joined by Ramdin and the pair put on 51 runs for the fifth wicket.
Ramdin was particularly merciless against Mohammad Sami who had a debut to forget—going for 51 runs off his four overs.
When Munro finally departed—outwitted by Pollard—Ramdin took the baton of responsibility with some scintillating shots to every corner of the ground.
The punch over point for a maximum off of Williams would live long in the memory of Knight Riders’ fans, along with a few lusty last over blows from Javon Searles, which led the defending champions to a commanding total.
A total which ultimately proved out of the reach of their outclassed visitors.
“We weren’t up to standard, [it was a] well-deserved victory to TKR,” said Pollard, after the contest. “We put our hands in the air and accept that and move on… We are going to take our catches, bat better, bowl better. Those are things we have to improve on as a team.
“I think we have a good bunch of guys in the dressing room and I think that hasn’t changed from 24 hours ago. We weren’t good and TKR deserved to win.”
Different captain, different players but seems like the same old story for St Lucia.
In the prematch interviews, Pollard wanted his team to do the talking on the pitch to silence Bravo’s good natured barbs, and to cut the chords on the Knight Riders captain’s new song. But it didn’t work out that way.
“At the end of the day, we are individuals, we are humans, we are friends,” said Pollard. “When you come in a competitive arena, you come to compete and at the end of the day, nothing changes.”
Even after the final Stars wicket fell, Bravo was not shy about letting Pollard know who was boss.
“[Bravo] is behind my back; I’m seeing him,” said Pollard. “He is trying all kinds of things. You’ve already won, why you doing all these things?”
“But like I said, that doesn’t change. We’ve been friends for years… Very well played Mr Bravo. I’ll take it now as the captain; but it’s a long tournament and things going to happen in the back end.”
CPL and the Knight Riders are off the mark and with Friday’s match in sight, franchise owner and Bollywood megastar Shahrukh Khan is on his way.
(Wednesday 8 August)
Trinbago Knight Riders: 195 for 6 off 20 overs. Colin Munro 68, Denesh Ramdin 50, Kesrick Williams 2/28 Kieron Pollard 2/22;
St Lucia Stars: 95 off 17.2 overs Andre Fletcher 19, Qais Ahmad 14, Fawad Ahmed 3/16, Dwayne Bravo 3/11.