The toss, according to Guyana Amazon Warriors skipper Rayad Emrit, was the only thing that his team got right last night, as hosts Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) surged past them to the top of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) standings with a crushing 67-run victory at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
Emrit, a Trinidadian seamer, was not being too harsh. After the misfiring Chris Lynn nicked a fullish Sohail Tanvir (3 for 27) delivery to Chadwick Walton at first slip in the first over of the match to go for duck, it was the TKR show.
Or perhaps that should read, the Colin Munro show!
Munro, who leads all CPL scorers this season with a mammoth 436 runs, opened the batting in place of Sunil Narine and the stylish New Zealander never looked back with a majestic 90. Munro’s knock, coupled with excellent bowling efforts by Ali Khan (3 for 22), Fawad Ahmed (2 for 20) and Khary Pierre (2 for 21), helped stretch the TKR’s winning run to five games.
TKR captain Dwayne Bravo explained that Narine was a late addition to the playing squad yesterday, as staff planned to rest the champion off-spinner, who spent much of the day at the hospital after extracting a tooth.
Narine’s dental procedure led to a change in the TKR batting order.
“[Sunil] indicated that he wanted to play but he didn’t want to open so we accepted that,” Bravo told the media, after the match. “His four overs are very important, more [important] than his batting. This game was very important for us to get two points and that’s why we played our best eleven.”
Due to the struggles of Lynn and Narine, Munro has virtually been playing as an opening batsman in this year’s edition of the CPL. But last night, he officially got the chance to lead from the front and his second wicket partnership of 135 runs with Denesh Ramdin (39 off 36) was just too much for the Warriors to handle.
Ramdin, who has proven to be a capable finisher for TKR in the past couple seasons, assumed a more sedate role at the top of the order yesterday, and was the appropriate foil for the Kiwi batsman who drove and pulled the Warriors bowlers to all parts.
Munro struck ten fours and belted four sixes—the biggest of which came in the 14th over when he nonchalantly whipped Emrit high over the midwicket boundary. The knock from the Kiwi was as elegant as it was devastating, as he seemed to measure each stroke to perfection.
His only blemish was falling ten short of his second CPL hundred, with his maiden ton having come against the same opposition at the Port of Spain Oval, two years ago.
Emrit must have been sick to his stomach by then, as the man with the unmistakable golden mohawk conceded 40 runs from his three overs without claiming a single scalp.
By the time Ramdin was well caught by Imran Tahir on the long on boundary off the bowling of Chris Green (1 for 20) in the 16th over, the damage had already been done. And the Warriors, who will host TKR at the Providence Stadium in Guyana on Sunday, lived to rue their missed chances.
The visitors were presented with a few run out chances to dislodge the pair of Munro and Ramdin but failed to deliver on both occasions. Emrit missed one run out chance, as he sent his return to “Casper the Friendly Ghost”, with the two batsman were stranded at the wicket-keeper’s end in the 10th over.
And young batting prodigy Shimron Hetmyer was a whisker away from sending Munro back to the dugout with a shy at the stumps in the 12th over.
The sloppy Warriors showing in the field came in for some harsh critique by coach Johan Botha halfway through the TKR innings; and the former TKR employee might have been ripping his notepad apart when Tanvir dropped a dolly of a catch to let Ramdin off the hook in the 13th over.
“We need to improve our fielding,” Emrit told the media afterwards. “In the last game we were excellent and in this game nothing went right for us. I just put it down as a bad day at the office for us and I know we are a better team that this.”
After breaking the impressive partnership between Munro and Ramdin, the visitors seemed to have wrestled some momentum back from TKR as just 36 runs came off the last five overs with a staggering six wickets falling in the process.
GAW’s right arm quickie Romario Shepherd did the trick, as he claimed three wickets in a spell which saw him account for Munro and the dangerous duo of Brendon McCullum (2) and Darren Bravo (9).
“I think the start that they got put us on the back foot but in our last five overs we came back well,” Emrit said. “I thought we had the momentum going into the batting.”
A total of 171 looks gettable when Luke Ronchi, Walton and Hetmyer occupy your first three batting spots. However, when they are all cheaply back in the hut inside the first four overs, it becomes a very tall order.
Ronchi (duck) was back in the pavilion in the first over as he fell LBW to the impressive Khan, who also accounted for an aggressive Hetmyer (11), while Walton was castled by left arm spinner Pierre for just four runs.
Pierre, who was left out for seamer Anderson Phillip in TKR’s previous contest against the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, was impressive in the three games he has played so far this season and has snapped up more wickets than Narine in this CPL edition to date. Bravo explained that his decision on his bowling line-up was all strategic.
“Khary [Pierre] has shown a lot of improvement over the years,” said Bravo. “He didn’t start for us this season but he’s been working hard in the nets and his attitude is right. He missed out in St Kitts but it’s all tactical. It’s not because he’s a bad bowler or because he had a bad game but we play horses for courses and he came straight back in and he was spot on.
“Anderson Phillip, another young player who did well against St Kitts, missed out tonight; but as a captain it’s good to know that I could call on any individual at any point in time.”
Last night, while Munro was the clear star with the bat, it was a collective effort with the ball.
By the end of the power play, the Warriors were struggling at 40 for 4, and there was to be no Andre Russell-type knock to bail them out. The visitors, arguably, missed the calming influence Shoaib Malik, with the Pakistani middle order batsman having returned to the sub continent for the Asian Cup.
“If you lose four wickets in the power play and you’re chasing 170, I don’t think any team is going to come back from that,” Emrit said. “We have a lot to work on, obviously to get partnerships. We did it in the last game against Barbados where we had a 96-run opening partnership.
“[…] Playing the last two games at home, hopefully we’ll be able to get the results that we need.”
While the visitors were struggling to put partnerships together—the biggest being the ninth wicket stand of 20 between the burly Roshon Primus and Shepherd—the TKR bowlers partnered effortlessly.
Bravo (2 for 22) used his bowlers flexibly as usual, and all five bowlers took GAW scalps, with Narine (1 for 13) being the most economical. The skipper’s field placing was immaculate as well as the TKR bowlers clearly stuck to their plans—and this was most evident when Green (2) drove a Pierre delivery straight to McCullum at cover in the seventh over, just seconds after Bravo moved the Kiwi into that position.
Jason Mohammed (27 off 27) and Primus tried to stave off the surging hosts, but the writing was long on the wall. Primus, who is built like a heavyweight boxer, went down swinging in his innings of 36, but the Warriors innings ended tamely as Tahir offered a simple catch to McCullum at short cover off the bowling of Khan in the 18th over.
With an appetizing match against the Jamaica Tallawahs on Saturday, and the return fixture against TKR to follow on Sunday, Emrit and company will do well to put last night’s horrid showing behind them as they jostle for playoff spots.
“[TKR] came out on top tonight but hopefully we could get the better of them on [Sunday].”
With the top four teams—Jamaica Tallawahs, GAW, Patriots and TKR—already settled for the CPL playoffs, it’s all about positioning and the quest to finish in the top two to contest the first Qualifier in Guyana on 11 September. The teams that finish third and fourth will contest the Eliminator on the following day.
GAW, currently in third spot, must turn their fortunes around if they want to contest the first Qualifier. Bravo and TKR, who are on the quest for back-to-back titles, are nearly there already with their penultimate League match against the Barbados Tridents tomorrow.
CPL Match Summary
Trinbago Knight Riders: 170 for 7 (20 overs) Colin Munro 90, Denesh Ramdin 39, Sohail Tanvir 3/27, Romario Shepherd 3/29.
Guyana Amazon Warriors: 103 all out: Roshon Primus 36*, Jason Mohammed 27, Ali Khan 3/22, Fawad Ahmed 2/20.
Result: TKR won by 67 runs.
Man of the Match: Colin Munro