Don’t diss the Trinidad and Tobago flag!
Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) captain Dwayne “DJ” Bravo suggested that a video of two female Guyanese fans trampling on a T&T flag was extra motivation for his troops last night, as they defeated the Guyana Amazon Warriors (GAW) by eight wickets to storm to a second consecutive Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) title at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy (BLCA) in Tarouba.
TKR lost back to back matches to GAW last week at Providence Stadium in Guyana but Bravo said he never doubted their ability to turn the tables on their regional rivals when it mattered.
“After we lost those two games in Guyana, everyone thought that was it,” said a beaming Bravo, after the CPL final. “But I know once we got to play Guyana again it would’ve been smooth sailing… The management team had a meeting and I just felt confident that if we played Guyana again we would beat them.
“They should now put some respect on our national flag and don’t disrespect it.”
Local spinner Khary Pierre was the man of the match yesterday with returns of three for 29; but there was no denying the value of New Zealand batsman Colin Munro, as he brought his tally for the season to a staggering 567 runs, which is a new CPL record.
And fittingly, Munro brought home the game in fine style, with the last 30 or so TKR runs—barring wides—coming off his bat.
Munro finished unbeaten on 68 from 39 balls and put the exclamation mark on a polished TKR display with a savage onslaught on the Warriors’ Rayad Emrit in the 17th over, hitting the Trinidadian medium pacer for three massive sixes in the game-clinching over.
With the victory, TKR became the first team to win the CPL tournament in back-to-back seasons.
For the Warriors though, it’s their fourth CPL final defeat at their fourth time of trying. The Guyanese franchise have been one of the most consistent teams through the six years of the CPL. However, in 2013, 2014, 2016 and also last night, they failed to get over the line.
Bravo and TKR don’t know about such misfortunes though. The Trinidad and Tobago franchise have gotten to three CPL finals and won them all: 2015, 2017 and now 2018.
Last night, TKR were excellent with both bat and ball and totally outplayed the Warriors, who beat them twice in Guyana recently to advance straight to the final.
Munro certainly showed no respect for the Warriors bowling attack, and the Kiwi seemed to middle everything once play resumed after a lengthy rain delay in the middle of the TKR run chase. While Munro and his countryman Brendon McCullum 39 (24) were instrumental with the bat, it was the brilliant Pierre and another disciplined bowling performance that really paved the way for victory.
The new darling of the TKR franchise, Ali Khan—who presumably filled the role of off-spinner Shadab Khan in that department—got the biggest party in sport underway when he removed Cameron Delport with the very first ball of the match.
And when CPL 2018’s leading wicket taker Fawad Ahmed had danger man Shimron Hetmyer (15) caught at first slip by Bravo with the GAW score on 52, the stage was set for the impressive Pierre to take over.
Left out of the second Eliminator against the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots due to Bravo’s “horses for courses” policy, Pierre tore out of the stables and was TKR’s difference maker last night.
After a rough opening spell where he conceded 21 runs from two overs, the left-arm spinner bounced back after the drinks break and claimed three quick scalps in his remaining two overs.
First, Pierre removed the ominous-looking Luke Ronchi 44 (35) to leave GAW 79/3 in the 11th over, before dismissing Chadwick Walton (one) just three balls later. Again an edge was induced, and this time Sunil Narine—who was visibly struggling with a shoulder injury—gobbled up the chance at slip. Walton was the CPL’s highest run scorer in 2017 but looked a shadow of himself this season, and Pierre put an end to his wretched tournament.
Pierre saved the best for last in his next over though, as he took a magnificent catch off his own bowling to dismiss the hard-hitting Sherfane Rutherford (12), who was integral to the Warriors’ two recent victories over TKR.
Not this time, Pierre said.
Sohail Tanvir (three), Jason Mohammed 24 (23) and skipper Chris Green (five) fell in quick succession thereafter as the visitors were left reeling at 113/8 at the end of the 16th over.
Tarouba was the dance floor, and Bravo (2/30) was showing off his full repertoire, showing his naysayers a thing or two in the process.
“I don’t need to prove anything to anyone,” said Bravo. “There’s a reason why for the last 10-15 years, I’ve been one of the most sought after all-rounders in this format. Teams pick me because of my ability to bowl in the death overs and a few bad games doesn’t make Dwayne Bravo’s career.
“I’m loved by most of the people. Ninety five percent of the people show that love and respect so the five percent who are not Dwayne Bravo fans, that’s okay.”
Once again, Bravo was a bit leaky at the back end of the innings, with his final two overs costing him 22 runs. In the process, the Warriors edged themselves up to a score of 147.
It was not an intimidating total by any means, but Green and company would have hoped to apply ample scoreboard pressure to worry the hosts. After all, TKR needed a brilliant cameo of 29 from super Kevon Cooper to get them over the line in pursuit of a modest 135 against the Patriots last year’s final.
But last night, a couple of New Zealanders in the TKR ranks were having none of that.
The hosts tried their sixth opening partnership for the 2018 season last night. And finally, they got it right.
Denesh “Shotta” Ramdin’s 24 runs from 30 balls proved to be the perfect foil for a belligerent McCullum, whose 39 largely powered TKR to 52 before the fall of the first wicket—it was the Knight Riders’ highest opening stand for the season.
And after a short, sharp shower which seemingly caught the ground staff on the back foot—delaying the game for an hour and 25 minutes—Munro stamped his authority on the game.
Munro added 35 for the second wicket with Ramdin, whose circumspect knock mirrored the innings he played in the 2017 final. The occasion called for at least one cool head in the TKR batting lineup; and Shotta provided that.
Munro was on a different beat, though. And once Darren Bravo pulled up lame with a grade two hamstring tear while going for a quick single in the 14th over, Munro bludgeoned the Warriors—or Emrit to be more specific.
At the start of the 17th over, there were still some 31 runs required from 24 balls. Munro saw it as an opportunity to devour the Trinidadian bowler on home soil. In all, 27 runs came off the over. And like DJ Bravo predicted in “Bowl Dem Out”, Munro hit Emrit for “six-six-six” to get TKR close to the finishing line.
No, it was not the mark of the beast. But all the same, it was a beast GAW could have done without seeing as Munro raced to his sixth fifty of the CPL season, before he cut a Tanvir delivery to the boundary in the 18th over to seal the TKR triumph.
Emrit, whose citizenship made him a target for some cynical Warriors fans in the build-up to the final, felt moved to respond to criticism in a post on social media.
“I don’t really have to say anything but I just thought I should,” stated Emrit. “This has been the toughest CPL for me since it has begun. I personally didn’t get the results as a player and I know I’m much better than what I have shown. But you know what? The best players in the world go through these patches.
“[…] The people who want to blame me for every time we lost a game, I understand; because you think I should be the one to get us over the [line]. I never once go into a game and not give 150%, so please all the small minded people with your smart comments; keep it to yourself.
“The Guyana Amazon Warriors have been to the finals four times now and that in itself is an amazing achievement. Yes, we haven’t crossed the line yet, but I’m sure we would.”
For Bravo, though, he could afford to end the season basking in the glow of success.
“It’s a great feeling and again I must thank Almighty God for a great season,” said Bravo. “I’m happy with the entire team and I think we did this for the people of Trinidad and Tobago and by extension the people in India who have really supported us throughout this tournament…
“To me, this is a very easy team to captain because it makes my job easy when I have guys like Brendon McCullum, Sunil Narine, [Denesh] Ramdin, Darren Bravo and Colin Munro. I get a lot of information from these guys.
“[…] There were times when we were down and out and we found a way to win. And that shows the quality and the calibre of players we have in our set up.”
TKR were definitely stacked with quality from top to bottom this season. And while GAW often turned to Hetmyer and Imran Tahir for match-winning performances, Bravo could have arguably turned to any one of his 11 players to do the business.
This season, Fawad (22 wickets) and Munro (567 runs) were the kings of their trade. And for a third time in four seasons, a Trinbago franchise ruled the CPL.
“I’m just happy with the way we came out in a final and dominated the game and send a strong signal to the rest of the competition,” said Bravo.
The CPL faithful certainly got the message loud and clear. But another note, Mr Munro must surely be considered a Trini now!
CPL Match Summary
Guyana Amazon Warriors 147/9 off 20 overs: Luke Ronchi 44, Jason Mohammed 24. Khary Pierre 3/29, DJ Bravo 2/30.
Trinbago Knight Riders 150/2 off 17.3 overs: Colin Munro 68*, Brendon McCullum 34, Romario Shepherd 1/29, Chris Green 1/30.
Result: TKR win by 8 wickets.
Man of the Match: Khary Pierre
Player of the Tournament: Colin Munro