The official record will show Ali Khan as the Man-of-the-Match in the hugely important Match 19 at Warner Park in St Kitts on Tuesday. The 30-year-old Khan, returning to the Trinbago Knight Riders’ line-up after missing half the season, claimed four wickets for six runs to completely undermine the Jamaica Tallawahs’ reply to a challenging TKR total and see them all out for just 92.
But the uncrowned hero of the morning encounter was TKR skipper Kieron Pollard.
And in the evening match-up, Jason Holder’s Barbados Royals scored 185 for 8, which proved a bridge too far for Nicholas Pooran’s Guyana Amazon Warriors. The Royals won by 45 runs.
With 167 runs on the tins at the end of 20 overs after being 104 for 3 after 17, Pollard and Tim Seifert walked briskly off the field, heads held high. They were followed slowly by Rovman Powell’s Tallawahs bunch, shoulders slumped, already looking like the badly beaten side they would be at the end of the game, losers by 75 runs.
By the end of over #3, Khan and Seifert had combined to dismiss the first three batsmen, Haider Ali (1 off 4), Kennar Lewis (7 off 13) and Shamarh Brooks (0 off 3).
At 9 for 3, the Tallawahs had already improved on their showing in the previous game on Sunday when they had been 8 for 3 at the same stage. And the improvement continued until the end of the Powerplay when they were 28 for 4 as opposed to Sunday’s 21 for 5.
But Imad Wasim (11 off 7, 2 x 4), who had added 83 on Sunday in partnership with Carlos Brathwaite, had already joined the dismissed threesome in the pavilion, caught at mid-off off Ravi Rampaul’s third ball after swatting leg-side boundaries off the first two.
Skipper Powell (22 off 20, 2 x 6) on-drove the second ball he received from Rampaul (2/32) for a contemptuous six over mid-wicket, announcing that he meant business. But when he attempted to clear long-on off Khary Pierre (1/19), he became the first of three batsmen to be caught by Darren Bravo, who sprinted in from long-on to hold on to a difficult-to-judge lofted drive dropping steeply out of the sky.
At that stage, the scoreboard read 60 for 5 and a conservative Win Predictor said 94/6 in favour of TKR.
With Pollard standing in his line of sight, Bravo would also catch Andre Russell in the deep, the West Indies all-rounder uncharacteristically taking 11 balls over his solitary run. And still at long-on, Bravo calmly snaffled Migael Pretorius off Akeal Hosein to end the innings in double figures with four balls remaining in the 19th over.
Before that, Jason Mohammed had already been bowled by Sunil Narine (2/11) in over #12. And Hosein had watched as Brathwaite (14 off 9, 2 x 6) twice heaved him into the stands. His leading edge off the next ball ended in the hands of Narine standing at a shortish extra-cover. That made the score 75 for 7 and left a Russell blitzkrieg as the Tallawahs’ only hope for salvation.
But lightning did not strike at Warner Park as it had at the Queen’s Park Oval in 2016 And a lot of the credit for this second abysmal Tallawahs performance should properly go to Pollard.
He stifled the Tallawahs batsmen with thoughtful field placing in support of tight bowling. And as he did on Sunday, he himself again often stood at silly-point to Mohammed as Pierre and Narine bowled left-arm orthodox spin and right-arm off-spin to him.
But he also fearlessly placed himself there to Brathwaite and Russell, no mean hitters of the cricket ball. And so skilfully did he create mounting scoreboard pressure that he might fairly be said to have accounted for his opposite number. And Russell.
But Pollard’s real psychological damage had really been done earlier in the piece after the Tallawahs sent TKR in on a wicket that showed signs of wear. From 47 for 1, when new boy Leonardo Julien (17 off 2, 2 x 4) holed out to Brooks in over #8, to 104 for 3 in over #17, the TKR runs came in a trickle, at best a steady stream.
So central in Sunday’s win, both Lendl Simmons (42 off 39, 1 x 6, 3 x 4) and Colin Munro (14 off 17, 1 x 4) perished trying to speed things up.
And when, at 105 for 4, Pretorius removed Bravo (14 off 14, 3 x 4) in over #18, he let in Seifert (24* off 8, 2 x 6, 2 x 4) to join Pollard (39* off 18, 4 x 6, 1 x 4).
And the floodgates opened.
Pretorius’ penultimate over (#18) yielded 14 runs and his last (#20) 28, including an all-run four off a dropped catch.
Russell’s last over (#19) went for 21. His body language left no one in any doubt about what he thought about that.
And what happened when the back-pedalling Tallawahs batted spoke volumes about the near miracle that is needed to rescue their season.
After a spectacular start in which they blasted 255 runs off the unfortunate St Lucia Kings on 27 August, they will now have to ensure they defeat at least two of the three teams that are now above them in their next three games on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday if they are to save themselves from an ignominious exit at the end of the group stage.
Toss: Jamaica Tallawahs
TKR: 167 for 4 (Lendl Simmons 42, Kieron Pollard 39*, Tim Seifert 24*, Imad Wasim 1/13, Carlos Brathwaite 1/16, Veerasammy Permaul 1/20)
JT: 92 all out (Rovman Powell 22, Ali Khan 4/6, Sunil Narine 2/11, Ravi Rampaul 2/32)
Man-of-the-Match: Ali Khan (TKR)
Result: TKR win by 75 runs
Points: TKR 2 JT 0
TEAMS P W L T NR Pts
SKN/Patriots 7 5 2 0 0 10
TKR 7 4 3 0 0 8
St L/Kings 6 4 2 0 0 8
GA/Warriors 7 3 4 0 0 6
J/Tallawahs 6 2 4 0 0 4
B/Royals 7 2 5 0 0 2