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Monday 9 December 2019
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Six Knight Riders in Newsday’s CPL All-Star XI

Trinbago Knight Riders celebrate their CPL victory early Sunday morning at the Brian Lara Academy, Tarouba.
Trinbago Knight Riders celebrate their CPL victory early Sunday morning at the Brian Lara Academy, Tarouba.

1. Chris Gayle (St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots): Since the CPL’s inception in 2013, Gayle has never found himself out of the top five batsmen in the tournament. 2017 proved no exception as the ‘Gaylestorm’ finished third on the charts, amassing 376 runs. The ‘Universe Boss’ smashed four fifties, including a high score of 93. En route he collected 26 fours and 21 sixes – modest by his usual standard. Gayle previously captained Jamaica Tallawahs to two trophies and came over to the Patriots after last year’s title. This year, he proved an agent of change, inspiring the team to the knockouts for the first time in their three-year existence, which consistently saw them propping the table. Sadly, despite his average of 63, his team ended in second-place.

2. Evin Lewis (St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots): The Trinbagonian opener has shown flashes of brilliance in the past for the T&T Red Steel, but this year he came to the fore big time. Lewis was transferred to the Patriots when they formed in 2015 but languished with them at the bottom of the table. This year, spurred on by Gayle, he ended fourth on the charts with 371 runs. Lewis cracked 28 fours and topped the sixes list with 31. The highlight of his season came with a masterful 97 not out off just 32 balls, failing to notch the century after Barbados Tridents skipper, Kieron Pollard, ended the game with a no-ball. What this run to the finals did was also remind the West Indies selectors of his presence, while also proving he could form a formidable partnership with the Jamaican.

3. Brendon McCullum (Trinbago Knight Riders): the Kiwi played just 10 matches before a broken wrist took him out the series. However, prior to that he was on course to correct his tame debut last year as he clattered 335 runs. He struck three fifties including a highest score of 91. McCullum shone with an average of 56, offering stability, adaptability in the top-order and an explosive start for the Knight Riders. McCullum also brought a wealth of international experience from his New Zealand career and IPL stints.

4. Chadwick Walton (Guyana Amazon Warriors): Walton was a major coup for the Warriors who were seeking to overturn three runners-up spots in their history. He played a supporting role in the Tallawahs’ two titles, cracking the top 10 twice, but this year he too exploded and served notice to the West Indian selectors. He accumulated the most runs in a single season with 458 while smashing the most boundaries this year: 37 fours and 24 sixes. His most memorable moment came when he battered countryman Kesrick Williams and mocked his signature send-offs.

5. Dwayne Smith (Barbados Tridents): After returning to the Tridents from Guyana Amazon Warriors, he was one of the few bright spots in a team that flopped. The 2014 champs failed to make the knockouts but Smith finished sixth on the charts with 349 runs. He clobbered 33 fours and 18 sixes and managed to illuminate the tournament with two centuries. He scored 103 not out against St. Lucia Stars and smacked 100 against the Warriors. His centuries are enough to find room for him in the final XI.

6. Denesh Ramdin (Trinbago Knight Riders, wicketkeeper): Ramdin showed he definitely remains the fastest hands in the West Indies. He claimed the most dismissals with nine catches and two stumpings, shining in particular when it came to Sunil Narine and Shadab Khan’s spin. He also chipped in with 212 runs and helped partner Kevon Cooper in the finals to lead TKR to the trophy. Ramdin wasn’t the flashiest out in the middle but he proved to be quite reliable with two crucial knocks against the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots – a match-winning 59 not out and 26 not out in the final.

7. Dwayne Bravo (Trinbago Knight Riders, captain): following the 2015 title, Dwayne Bravo made it clear he wanted another title. TKR finished third last year but this time around, his captaincy was clearly a cut above the rest. He struggled with the bat with just 110 runs but he proved his mettle with the ball, claiming 16 wickets. Bravo finished second on the charts after topping last year’s. Bravo’s crowning moment came against Warriors in the Playoffs when he smartly rotated his bowlers to drive his team to the final.

8. Kevon Cooper (Trinbago Knight Riders): With TKR at 90 for seven in the finals, Patriots thought they had the home team but Cooper (29 not out) and Ramdin (26 not out) saw things home. He claimed 12 wickets in the tournament at an astounding average of just over 15, justifying why Bravo considers him one of the region’s best all-rounders. He may not have excelled with the bat but the medium-pacer saved the best for last. In this decider, he cracked two fours and two sixes and in just 14 balls, he crushed the Patriots’ fairytale dream.

9. Sohail Tanvir (Guyana Amazon Warriors): Tanvir became the most expensive pick-up in the last draft and he paid dividends, topping the charts with 17 wickets. The Pakistani medium-pacer didn’t deliver as much with the bat but when you can nab five wickets for three runs, there’s no need to. Last season he played second-fiddle to Bravo with 20 wickets, but this year he was the one edging the leaderboard. Along with Rayad Emrit (15 wickets) and Afghan spinner Rashid Khan (14 wickets), Guyana proved to have one of the strongest bowling attacks the CPL has ever seen.

10. Sunil Narine (Trinbago Knight Riders): Narine failed miserably with the bat as an opener, failing to repeat his IPL success with Kolkata. But as usual, he proved as reliable as ever with his mystery spin claiming 12 scalps. At an economy of 5.39, it’s tough to take him out the final XI because of how much he dominates batters, even when he isn’t taking wickets. Narine’s performance (1/8 from four overs) in the final proved record-breaking, setting a new mark for most economical spell ever in a CPL knockout game.

11. Shadab Khan (Trinbago Knight Riders): before the PCB kept toying with his availability, Shadab had fans asking Narine who? He claimed 12 wickets at a miserly 5.79 economy in just eight matches. With a couple four-wicket hauls, he proved to be even more aggressive than Narine with his leg-spin. Had he stayed for the full duration, there’s a great chance he would have topped the bowling charts, as batsmen found him unplayable. If TKR stick with him and Narine, expect TKR to continue to dominate.

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