TRINBAGO Knight Riders (TKR) are one win away from ending the 2020 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) T20 tournament with an unblemished record, but standing in the way of a fourth title is a quietly confident St Lucia Zouks unit.
Both teams will square off in the CPL final, at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, in Tarouba, at 10 am, on Thursday.
In the preliminary phase of the tournament, TKR ended with a perfect ten wins from as many matches which included two victories over the Zouks.
Zouks have regained the form they showed earlier in the tournament. After starting the group phase with three wins in four matches, they had a dip in form which saw the team lose three of their next five matches.
Zouks then got past Jamaica Tallawahs by 11 runs in their final preliminary contest before cruising past Guyana Amazon Warriors by ten wickets in the semifinals, on Tuesday.
Zouks captain Daren Sammy told his players they cannot simply make up numbers in the final because TKR are a formidable opponent.
In a Facebook video following their semi-final win over Amazon Warriors, Sammy said, “We did not come here to just make the finals, we came here to win this cup. Nobody gave us a chance, but we believed in ourselves silently and on Thursday we have every chance to do that. TKR is Goliath, but those who study the Bible (know) David defeated Goliath.”
On Wednesday, after Sammy reiterated the point that David defeated Goliath during a media conference, Pollard said, “How long ago was that?”
As both captains laughed, Sammy admitted, “That was a long time ago, but that’s the confidence we have in the team. Everybody knows from the time the tournament started playing we said whoever has to win this tournament has to go through TKR.”
The Zouks captain is optimistic in his team’s chances. “They have played some really exciting, dominant brand of cricket but like I said we have that silent confidence in our team that we play well as a unit.”
Pollard said his team is going to maintain the same mindset that has worked for them during the 2020 edition.
“We’ve had a good tournament thus far, we have played some good cricket. We have come in each and every time and tried to improve as a unit, so I think nothing is going to change come tomorrow. At the end of the day we have reached this far, so just one more hurdle for us.”
Pollard said his team is oozing with confidence after winning 11 matches on the trot and his players are not feeling pressured.
“(We have) confidence, (but) there is always pressure. Before you play the first team there was pressure. Throughout the tournament there would have been pressure as well…at the end of it I have played in finals and for me it is just another game because you have nothing to lose. Four other teams would have liked to be in the position that both teams are in.”
TKR got past Zouks by six wickets on the Duckworth-Lewis method when the teams met for the first time at the Queen’s Park Oval in St Clair, on August 26.
TKR were victorious by 23 runs when the teams travelled south to Brian Lara, on September 5.
TKR, three-time champions in the tournament, booked a place in their fourth CPL final with a nine-wicket win over Tallawahs in the first semi-final. The Jamaica franchise could only post 107/7 in 20 overs, before TKR made light work of the target as they raced to 111/1 in 15 overs.
Zouks dismissed Amazon Warriors for 55 in 13.4 overs and then sealed a spot in their first final by racing to 56 without loss in 4.3 overs.
TKR are aiming to go one better than the Amazon Warriors last year. Amazon Warriors won all their matches leading into the final, but fell at the final hurdle to Barbados Tridents.
Both captains believe that previous results mean nothing in the final.
“It is another day where the team who plays better on that day (will win). Whatever you’ve done throughout the tournament does not matter. It is what you do on that day that will count,” Sammy said.
Pollard agreed with Sammy. “They pushed us in that last game they played against us in Brian Lara…we are wary of each and every team.
“I am not one to go much into different things, but I tend to like to play my cricket on the day and plan properly and come out and execute it. All of these things count for nothing.”