Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) will have a second chance of advancing to the 2017 Hero Caribbean Premier League final today, after the TKR top order failed to deliver in the absence of their leading run-scorer Brendon McCullum, on Tuesday night.
TKR suffered a 38-run defeat to the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in Qualifier One at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy (BLCA) in Tarouba. With the win Patriots booked a spot in Saturday’s final at the same venue at 9 pm. Today, at 8 pm, TKR will have a second opportunity to advance to the final when they face either Guyana Amazon Warriors or Jamaica Tallawahs, also at the BLCA. Last evening Amazon Warriors and Tallawahs played in Eliminator One.
A workmanlike unbeaten half century from Patriots captain Chris Gayle (54) got Patriots to 149 for seven. In reply TKR were dismissed for 111 in 19.3 overs.
Gayle, did not bat with his usual destruction, but Patriots coach Phil Simmons said it is great to see him bat through the innings.
Simmons said, “It is good to see him taking that responsibility and he (Gayle) feels if we don’t get a blistering start… then he has to be the one to stick around and nurse things through. That’s a different side to him that we are seeing and we are enjoying it.”
Gayle lost his in-form opening partner Evin Lewis for six as he was brilliantly caught by CPL debutant Daniel Christian. The former Australia all-rounder, running back from extra cover, dived just inside the boundary to take the catch. Colin Munro could not contain his excitement as he jumped on Christian’s back for a piggy-back ride.
Mohammed Hafeez and Gayle restored the innings with a 35-run second wicket partnership. The fightback was halted when Hafeez chased a wide delivery and was caught for 21 by wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin off Kevon Cooper. The score read 42/2 after 6.4 overs.
The TKR bowlers kept the Patriots at bay as they progressed to 61/2 after 10 overs.
Gayle and Brandon King played some shots, but struggled to get boundaries regularly as spinners Sunil Narine and Shadab Khan kept Knight Riders in front.
King going for a big shot could only sky the ball to Ramdin off Dwayne Bravo to leave Patriots on 90/3 after 13.3 overs.
Carlos Brathwaite (14) came to the middle and asserted himself quickly by hitting Dwayne Bravo for four to long off.
The catching was not only excellent on the field, as a spectator took a one handed catch when Gayle struck a six over long on off Khan.
Twenty seven runs off the last two overs got Patriots to a competitive total with Gayle leading the way with some help from Devon Thomas (eight). Gayle’s 51-ball knock included three fours and three sixes. Dwayne Bravo was the top bowler taking four for 38 in four overs, while fast bowler Ronsford Beaton grabbed 2/22 in four overs.
Simmons, the ex-Zimbabwe, Ireland and West Indies coach, said Patriots are now looking like a championship team, but says his team has to play even better to win their first CPL title.
“I think we are now getting there, we are now getting to where we want to be,” Simmons said. “I think we looked a lot sharper in the field hitting the stumps a couple times. We have been asking for a clinical performance and I think (on Tuesday) we were close but we will save it for Saturday.”
The TKR top order failed to impress without McCullum for the first time in the tournament. McCullum was the second leading runscorer in the tournament when he broke his left arm while batting against the Barbados Tridents last Saturday. TKR were six runs for three wickets when Sunil Narine (duck), William Perkins (one) and Colin Munro (five) were all dismissed. Narine was run out by a direct hit from Lewis, Perkins was caught down the leg side by wicketkeeper Thomas and Munro was caught and bowled by fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell.
Denesh Ramdin and Darren Bravo tried to restore the innings with a 36-run fourth wicket partnership. However, TKR sunk into further trouble with the score on 42 when Ramdin got a leading edge and was caught by Gayle in the covers for 19.
It was soon 59/6 in the 13th over when Darren Bravo was run out for 29 going for a single, before Christian was unlucky to be given out leg before for four.
Dwayne Bravo entertained with a quick 24 from 13 balls but he could not rescue his team as TKR were dismissed for 111. Left arm fast bowler Cottrell was the best Patriots bowler snatching 3/17 in four overs.
Dwayne Bravo said playing on a fairly new surface and venue at Tarouba was not an excuse for the defeat. He said, “No excuse, we are all professional cricketers, we have to play on whatever we turn up on.
“We just did not bat properly. Both teams played on the (same) wicket, we just did not bat smart enough and we got some soft dismissals.”