PAKISTAN-BORN United States fast bowler Ali Khan is available to play for the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) in the 2021 Caribbean Premier League (CPL), after serving his quarantine period in St Kitts, according to TKR coach Imran Jan.
The TKR coach was speaking during an online media session on Monday.
Khan, who has been part of the TKR set-up since 2018, is yet to play a match for the 2020 champions.
After six games, TKR are in third spot with six points, the same number as Guyana Amazon Warriors but with a superior net run-rate. The TKR will face the fifth-placed Jamaica Tallawahs (four points) on Tuesday from 10 am, at Warner Park, Basseterre, St Kitts.
About Khan’s non-selection for the TKR’s previous six games, Jan said, “Being in the bubble, he’s been in quarantine for a little longer. He’s back, he’s fit and he’s available for selection.”
Another Pakistan-born player, veteran leg-spinner Yasir Shah, has also been unused thus far by the TKR. Jan said Shah’s omission is due to “tactics at the moment.” The TKR coach added, “We’re looking at our best 11 and we’ll see how and when Yasir fits in, as we move along.”
The TKR defeated the Tallawahs by seven wickets on Sunday.
“It’s good to get off a win (on Sunday),” said Jan, who is in his first season as TKR coach. “We want to continue winning. We take on Jamaica again (on Tuesday). There are good vibes in the camp.”
Is he confident that his team will be peaking at the right time? “Yes,” Jan replied. “It’s very important. Last year was last year, 2020. We acknowledged that we had a great season as a team. What we’re trying to do is to peak at the right time. We want to string together some wins.”
On Sunday, the Tallawahs were 15 runs for five wickets but recovered to reach 144/7, courtesy of Carlos Brathwaite’s 58, 42 from Imad Wasim and an unbeaten 20 from Andre Russell.
“That (Tallawahs) batting lineup is full of some power players,” said Jan. “We were aware that they have Russell (and) Carlos. We had them, early o’clock, (five wickets) down. We would have liked to finish it off, but we would be happy chasing 145 any day against (the Tallawahs).”
Opener Lendl Simmons returned to form with a knock of 70, as the TKR responded with 145/3 in 17.1 overs.
“I’m happy for Lendl,” Jan said. “He has the backing of the management staff and, more importantly, the captain. We’ll continue to support Lendl with his push to get more runs for us.”
Left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein has been leading the TKR’s bowling averages with 12.75 and economy rate with 4.25. He has claimed eight wickets thus far, second behind veteran fast bowler Ravi Rampaul (15).
“Akeal has gone from strength to strength,” said Jan. “His confidence level is really high. He’s coming off West Indies duties and he has stood out. His bowling average speaks for itself. To have Akeal Hosein performing as well as he is now, we’re very happy where he is at.”
Floyd Reifer, coach of the Tallawahs, commented, “The guys are gelling really well together. We’ve spending a lot of time with each other in the team room. The team is in very good spirits.”
However, the Tallawahs have registered two wins in their five matches.
“The ultimate aim is to win the competition, but we have to get to the final four first and, by doing that, we’ve got to take it game by game,” Reifer pointed out. “In terms of the points standings, I still think that it’s very wide open. A lot of teams are close within each other, in terms of the points situation.
“I think the net run-rate will have an important part to play as well. It’s just a matter of going out there now and having a good second half. It’s all about building a momentum at the right time, in tournaments like these.”
First-choice wicketkeeper Chadwick Walton has been out for a week with a hamstring injury, with Kennar Lewis, who partnered Walton at the top of the Tallawahs’ batting in the early matches, given the duties behind the stumps.
Reifer said, “Kennar kept in the last couple of games. I think he can handle the situation in opening the batting and keeping. We also have another option in Shamarh Brooks, in terms of wicketkeeping. We’ll monitor (it) as we go on. I think Kennar is doing a pretty good job (but) we’re looking forward to Chadwick coming back as soon as possible.”