CPL 2021: Fletcher’s unbeaten 81 in vain as Pollard’s TKR avenge surprise loss

One day fuh police, they say, one day fuh tief.

Cricket does not always work that way but on Tuesday at Warner Park in St Kitts, it did.

Faf du Plessis’ St Lucia Kings, victors when they stopped Kieron Pollard’s Trinbago Knight Riders five runs short of their 157 for 5 on Sunday morning, were on the losing end when TKR asked them to get one more to earn a second victory.

Photo: St Lucia Kings batsman Andre Fletcher.

Despite a rollicking, unbeaten, boundary-filled half-century from Andre Fletcher (81*, 4 x 6, 6 x 4), they could only get within 27 of their target before the overs ran out. No other Kings batsman crossed 15 and, with five overs still left in their innings, Win Predictor had already written them off, giving them only a 2% chance of doing the season double over a side that they have rarely been able to beat.

Fletcher was pushed back on his haunches by the right-arm/left-arm parsimonious spin pair of Sunil Narine (1/16) and Akeal Hosein (1/12). Called up by his skipper at 40 for 1 to bowl the last over of the Powerplay, Narine put the brakes on what had until then been very steady Kings progress.

Pollard inexplicably opted to bowl over #12, punctuating eight consecutive overs of spin with an injection of his medium pace and conceding nine runs.

By then, Isuru Udana had already accounted for the dangerous Rahkeem Cornwall (8 off 8) with his first ball and Narine had sent back du Plessis, caught at slip by Tim Seifert.

Photo: St Lucia Kings opener Rahkeem Cornwall pulls to leg during CPL 2021 action vs TKR at Warner Park in St Kitts on 31 August.

Bowling after four consecutive overs at the far end from Narine, Hosein had put the struggling Roston Chase (0 off 5) out of his misery—well caught off the edge by Seifert. By the time the spinners had completed their allotment, the score was a decent 77 for 3 but there were only six overs left to get 83: a mountain to climb.

The ascent of El Tucuche became a climb up Everest when Ravi Rampaul removed Mark Deyal (14 off 11) and Tim David, Kings’ tournament top-scorer so far, with successive balls.

Fletcher had a go, swinging lustily and clouting young pacer Jayden Seales for 17 in over #16 and Rampaul for 14 in #19.

But realistically, the mountaintop was always out of reach.

Earlier, Man-of-the-Match Pollard had had to come to the rescue of his off-colour side that seemed to be finding trouble where there really was none. He again came in earlier in the order than he normally would, after the first two wickets had fallen for 63 in the 10th over.

Photo: TKR captain Kieron Pollard goes on the attack against the Barbados Royals on 27 August 2021.
(Copyright TKR)

When Alzarri Joseph had Narine (24 off 32) caught by du Plessis and Kesrick Williams sent Colin Munro (1 off 4) back in the next over, Pollard was joined by Seifert, who had come so close to stealing the win for his side on Sunday. Together, the pair slowly consolidated their position, with little of the powerful ball striking one has come to associate with the West Indies white ball skipper early on.

He seemed to be waiting for the call-up of off-spinner Cornwall, who had sought in vain to induce him into leg-side error in the first game. But by the end of over #15, the pair had progressed from 68 to 91 and du Plessis had declined to repeat Sunday’s attempted entrapment.

No problem. Pollard and Seifert could wait no longer. They took 11 off Chase in over #16, nine off Joseph in #17 and 14 off Keemo Paul in #18.

Had umpire Deighton Butler not failed to call what looked like a clear wide delivered to the New Zealander by Wahab Riaz in over #19, Pollard might well have gone on to his half-century—making the challenge for the Kings even greater.

Photo: TKR batsmen Kieron Pollard (left) and Denesh Ramdin take a minute to talk it over during CPL action against the Barbados Royals on 27 August 2021.
(Copyright TKR)

In the event, the pair took 21 off that over before a visibly upset Pollard tried to launch Williams into outer space; he only found a calm Deyal waiting on the long-on boundary for the missile to come down.

Williams would also claim Seifert (37 off 25) and Denesh Ramdin (8 off 3) before the end of that final over to finish with flattering figures of 4/24.

Given first strike by du Plessis, the TKR top order had again looked out of sorts. Opening with Narine, Lendl Simmons (11 off 13) did not survive beyond the third over. Moved down one place from the day before, Tion Webster (14 off 14) never looked convincing and eventually contrived to find David’s safe hands on the long-on boundary.

That brought to the crease Munro, who had endured unspeakable travails in the first game and who must have been acutely aware that he had arguably cost his team two points. It did not help.

He eventually got his bat on the fourth ball he faced, steering it straight into the hands of backward-point Wahab Riaz. The Pakistani did not have the presence of mind to grass the catch.

Photo: TKR opener Lendl Simmons is bowled during CPL 2021 action against Barbados Royals.
(Copyright CPL T20 Ltd 2021)

It might have made no difference. But by letting in the in-form Seifert to join Pollard, pouching the chance did.

Both teams next take on Nicholas Pooran’s middle-of-the-table Guyana Amazon Warriors, TKR, second on the points table, on Wednesday and table-proppers SLK on Thursday.

Match Summary

Toss: St Lucia Kings

TKR: 158 for 7 (Kieron Pollard 41, Tim Seifert 37, Sunil Narine 24, Kesrick Williams 4/24, Alzarri Joseph 1/23, Roston Chase 1/27)

St Lucia Kings: 131 for 7 (Andre Fletcher 81*, Ravi Rampaul 3/34, Isuru Udana 2/32, Akeal Hosein 1/12, Sunil Narine 1/16)

Man-of-the-Match: Kieron Pollard

Result: TKR won by 27 runs

Points: TKR 2, St Lucia Kings 0

Photo: TKR pacer Ravi Rampaul (centre) celebrates a wicket during CPL 2021 action against the St Lucia Kings.
(Copyright CPL T20 Ltd 2021)

                                              POINTS TABLE

TEAMS                         P          W        L         T         NR      Pts

SKN/Patriots             3          3          0          0          0          6

TKR                               4          2          2          0          0          4

J/Tallawahs                2          1          1          0          0          2

GA/Warriors              3          1          2          0          0          2

B/Royals                      3          1          2          0          0          2

St L/Kings                   3          1          2          0          0          2

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About 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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