The Caribbean Premier League’s (CPL) leading run scorer Colin Munro had a rare off night at the Queen’s Park Oval last night. But, once again, the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) found a way to triumph with a nervy last over victory against the Barbados Tridents at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain.
The result, which stretched TKR’s winning streak to six matches, assured the defending champions of one of the CPL’s top two slots with a game to spare.
Australian leg-spinner spinner Fawad Ahmed stepped in the breach with a mesmerising spell of 3 for 28—which skittled the Tridents top order—although it was the crucial run out of Tridents batsman Nicholas Pooran in the 17th over and a brilliant penultimate over by Ali Khan that set the stage for the TKR’s nine run victory.
“We have a really good team and everyone is chipping in,” said Fawad, at the post match interview. “I’m trying my best to bowl well. It feels amazing. You know this is my job and to come out here and play cricket and contribute to the team, I really enjoy it.
“This is my first time […] in a league playing out of Australia, so I’m happy with the way I’m going and I hope that we continue going well as a team. Everyone is performing well.”
The Tridents, who posted their seventh consecutive defeat last night, finish the season at the foot of the CPL table. But they did make a game of it.
The Knight Riders seemed destined to post a score well over 200, as Chris Lynn opened with a blistering 29 runs off 10 ball before young pacer Chemar Holder uprooted his middle stump. At that point, it seemed to be business as usual for the TKR—lose an early wicket, then rebuild with Munro.
However Munro was uncharacteristically off colour and produced a patchy batting display. And the Tridents battled back to restrict their hosts.
Denesh “Shotta” Ramdin replaced Lynn at the crease and posted a classy 51 off 31 balls, which featured some picturesque stroke play. One nonchalant flick off the pads for the maximum in the fourth over against Ronston Chase, in particularly, looked the shot of the man in form and in full command of his timing.
At the other end, Munro’s knock of 28 made him the CPL’s highest run scorer in a single season with 464. But the ever reliable Kiwi failed to build on two life lines in the same over off impressive Pakistani titan Mohammad Irfan.
First, with the score at 52 for 1 and Munro miscuing shots with regularity, Shai Hope grassed a difficult chance diving forward with both hands. Then Imran Khan spilled a regulation dolly of a catch at short fine leg.
Irfan flashed a cynical smile at Khan—but he must have felt like pulling out of his flowing hair.
But cricket is also a game of redemption. And Khan eventually led the way in checking the TKR momentum, with the impressive figures of 2 for 25 off his four overs—which included the wickets of, you guessed it, Munro and Ramdin.
The Knight Riders struggled through the middle overs, thereafter, and only a late flurry of 33 from 20 balls by captain Dwayne Bravo—including an outrageous six behind point off Holder—pushed the normally fluent batting unit, to a decent total.
In reply, the much-changed Barbados Tridents got a fair start from the inexperienced duo of Tion Webster and Sunny Sohal before Fawad sent them back to the pavilion with their stumps in shambles.
For the third time this season at the Oval, the Aussie celebrated a wicket off his first delivery, as Webster was comprehensively beaten by a ripping googly and had his middle stump rollicked.
Like a predator toying with its prey, the leg spinner teased Sohal into a similar trap, after being repeatedly bamboozled. And, for his next trick, Fawad enlisted Ramdin’s assistance behind the stumps, as the wicket-keeeper reacted in a flash to to remove Shai Hope’s bails, after the batsman danced down the wicket.
It left the Tridents in a precarious situation at 100 for 3. But Pooran looked to relish the challenge on his home turf, as he battered, pierced and flummoxed the off side field with a brilliant knock of 44, which brought the Tridents within sight of the finish line.
Pooran had Tridents captain Jason Holder for company with the latter showing little signs of the injury that forced him off the field for majority of the TKR innings. They combined to put on 50 runs for the fourth wicket, which left the Tridents chasing a very achievable 47 runs off the last four overs.
But then, captain Bravo “chipped in”—as Fawad delicately put it. Pooran pushed for a single straight to Bravo, who took aim like a sniper. And with one stump to hit, he did just that. The powerful 22 year old was run out by a matter of millimetres.
Ronston Chase joined the fight, with the Tridents requiring 28 off 12 deliveries.
Bravo once again threw the ball to his rising star Ali Khan and he induced Holder into a skied effort that was snapped up by Khary Pierre at long off. His next five deliveries went for just four runs.
“I’m glad with the performances so far,” said Khan (A), who credited his teammates for giving him confidence even when he goes for runs. “The coaches have been very helpful, skipper Dwayne Bravo has been very helpful, and [I’m] just executing the plan and it’s coming out good.”
If Khan (A) keeps this up, the new heartthrob of the female TKR fans might return to the US with a few wedding proposals. If he returns at all.
There were 24 runs needed off the final over now.
Springer hit the much criticised skipper for six off the first ball of the last over, as the Oval supporters held their heads. But they don’t call him “Champion” for nothing.
Bravo responded with some accurate slower deliveries, which gave Springer no room to free his arms and restricted the Tridents to just 14 runs in the over. Cue another Port of Spain party.
CPL Match Summary
Trinbago Knight Riders 180 for 5 off 20 overs: Dinesh Ramdin 51, Dwayne Bravo 33, Imran Khan 2 for 25, Chemar Holder 2 for 42
Barbados Tridents 171 for 5 off 20 overs: Nicholas Pooran 44, Shai Hope 26, Fawad Ahmed 3 for 25, Ali Khan 1 for 39.
Man of the Match: Fawad Ahmed (TKR)