TRINBAGO Knight Riders (TKR) captain Kieron Pollard said a healthy Dwayne Bravo and the return of Fawad Ahmed are key additions to the team this season after the local franchise struggled to find consistency in the bowling department during the 2019 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) T20 tournament.
Bravo fractured his finger days before last year’s CPL bowled off and the medium pacer was forced to miss the entire tournament. Bravo has been a key member of the TT franchise since the CPL began in 2013, leading all bowlers in the history of the tournament with 97 wickets.
Ahmed made a name for himself in his only season with TKR in 2018. The leg spinner ended the tournament as the top wicket taker with 22 scalps, which was instrumental in helping TKR cop its third CPL title. The Pakistan-born Australian played for the St Lucia Zouks last year.
“I think it is going to be fantastic for us because these are guys who are proven match winners,” Pollard told reporters on Zoom, on Friday.
“Fawad has been with TKR before (and) he has won a title and DJ (Bravo), the champion himself. I think that is something that we really missed in last year’s campaign was the experience in our bowling. We lost DJ early up and we lost (Sunil) Narine through the tournament as well. So again, having those two experienced campaigners for us is a plus and they are coming quick and firing, looking forward to perform in this tournament. We could only see positives and again hopefully we can piece the puzzles together and start the campaign on a good run.”
Mystery spinner Narine missed five matches last year because of a finger injury and was below par with just seven wickets in seven matches. The most successful bowler for TKR in 2019 was medium pacer Jimmy Neesham who took 11 wickets in ten matches at an astronomical economy rate of 11.10. Neesham finished 11th on the bowling chart. Barbados Tridents spinner Hayden Walsh was top of the list with 22 scalps.
Pollard, who said the first objective is to qualify for the playoffs, is excited about the opening match of the tournament against Guyana Amazon Warriors at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba, on Tuesday, at 10 am.
“Guyana did well throughout the 2019 campaign, but as we have seen we have planned for 2020 and all the plans we have planned for individuals have gone out the window (because of covid19). 2019 is done, it’s a new series and we are looking forward to playing against them, every time we come up against them it’s a good match. They got the better of us in 2019 but that counts for nothing come the start of this tournament.”
Amazon Warriors, who defeated TKR twice last year, lost in the final to Barbados Tridents at Brian Lara Stadium.
Bravo led the TT franchise from 2013 to 2018, but Pollard replaced the injured Bravo last year as captain. Pollard, who is the West Indies T20 and 50-over captain, has been given the nod ahead of Bravo to skipper again.
On the decision, Pollard said, “It was an overall decision from each and every individual. We sat down and we had the conversations since last year, so it was no surprise obviously when it was announced this year.”
The TKR captain added that Bravo is excited about his role. “He wants to enjoy the rest of his playing time and we want to give him that opportunity to be free and just do what the champion does and that’s win cricket games for the franchise and hopefully prolong his career for as long as possible.”
Pollard is also looking forward to playing with Pravin Tambe, a 48 year old Indian spinner who will be oldest player in the history of the CPL.