The Trinbago Knight Riders will be looking to capture their second Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) title on home soil today when they battle the dangerous St Kitts and Nevis Patriots at the Brian Lara Academy at 9pm in Tarouba. The Knight Riders, led by Dwayne Bravo, are facing the Patriots for the fourth time in the tournament and lead the head-to-head record 2-1. The solitary defeat, however, came in the Playoffs on Tuesday, and the hosts needed to beat a plucky Guyana Amazon Warriors unit on Thursday to join the Patriots in the final
A serene Bravo, at the pre-final press conference at the Hyatt yesterday, said: "I think it's going to be a very good final. It's one of my predictions that we would play each other four times in the competition. It's the two best teams here," he said.Bravo said his team celebrated reaching the final on Thursday night but acknowledges the job is not done and wants to do something special for the people of Trinidad and Tobago. The flamboyant all-rounder is expecting a bumper crowd tonight with the title on the line.
"Our fans love us, they love cricket and we are there to make them happy. They're gonna come out in their numbers. It's not gonna be a one-sided game," he said.
Gayle, beaming with confidence after downing the Knight Riders on Tuesday to go straight into the final, said his team has momentum on their side but noted both teams are coming off big wins ahead of tonight's fixture.
"We know each other well and it's about who could pull it off tomorrow. We know what to expect and it's just about trying to adapt to the conditions as soon as possible," he said.
Gayle and fellow opener Evin Lewis have carried the bulk of the scoring for the Patriots and either of them could prove decisive tonight. Lewis was a shot away from scoring the fastest ever CPL hundred last week, while Gayle stroked a sedate 54 not out from 51 balls to beat the Knight Riders on Tuesday.
Gayle, known as one of the biggest hitters in world cricket, said he enjoys playing alongside the explosive Lewis as it eases the pressure on him to be aggressive.
"To be honest, when Evin gets off it works for the team. He's been batting really well and hopefully he could get a score in front his home crowd (in the final). I'll continue playing my game according to the situation," he explained.
Bravo, discussing strategy for the final, dismissed any notion that the Knight Riders will scrap the plan of batting Sunil Narine as a "pinch hitter" at the top of the order. Narine, despite equalling the fastest Indian Premier League( IPL) half-century last season, has made little impact for the TKR with the bat. The champion off-spinner is averaging just 13 and apart from a fortunate knock of 79, has compiled just 77 runs from his 11 other innings in the tournament.Bravo, however, is unwilling to change the script for tonight's decisive match and is backing Narine to come good.
"Why change? His job is to go out there and give us a good start and if not, get out. The good thing about it is he's not wasting any balls. We bat fairly deep so no pressure on Sunil. He has the luxury on top the order (to be ultra aggressive). A lot of people are talking about his average but his job is to take wickets. We use him on top the order to give us momentum, it hasn't been working so far but tomorrow could be his night," Bravo declared.
Meanwhile, Gayle's season can already be considered a success by taking the Patriots – a previously struggling franchise – into their first ever final in his debut season. The powerful left-handed batsman is however eyeing the title to bring some cheer to their fans and the people of the Leeward Islands affected by Hurricane Irma.