WITH two matches remaining in the 2021 Hero Caribbean Premier League T20 tournament group stage for the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR), skipper Kieron Pollard wants to extend the team’s three-game win-streak to five as the race tightens ahead of the knockout round.
The defending champions secured a six-wicket win over Barbados Royals at Warner Park in St Kitts on Thursday and now sit atop the standings on ten points. The dominant victory saw TKR unseat tournament leaders St Kitts and Nevis Patriots (SKNP) from pole position.
However, both TKR and SKNP face each other in their final two matches of the group stage on Saturday and on Sunday.
The results from these matches will determine who progresses on to the knockout stage as group leaders.
After’s Thursday’s result, Pollard hopes his team will maintain a winning momentum and enter the next stage atop the standings.
“We are focused on trying to get two points each from the next two games. We’ll watch the table, see where we’re at and see where we need to continue to improve.
“The strongest soldiers always get the hardest fight. We are strong and hopefully, we can give a good account of ourselves in the next two games.
“This is the business end of the tournament so we need to try to nail down all the hard moments,” he said. Looking ahead at this weekend’s games, Pollard acknowledged SKNP’s wealth of talent.
Former TKR talisman Dwayne Bravo captained the team to an unbeaten five-match run at the start of the competition.
But since he sustained a groin injury in the sixth match, SKNP have not been consistent and lost the last three matches.
Although Bravo is still injured, the likes of big-hitters Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Sherfane Rutherford and Fabian Allen, backed by pacers Sheldon Cottrell and Paul van Meekeran and spinners Fawad Ahmed and Asif Ali remain a threat to any batting and bowling line-up. Pollard, however, is undeterred and chasing full points.
“They (SKNP) are a good team, they have world-class players in their line-up, experienced players and well-balanced but it’s just a matter of us focusing on what we need to do as a team, and once we do that, that’s the main thing.
“We don’t really focus much on the opposition, we respect the opposition but we have to focus on what we need to do in order to get our victory,” he added.
Thursday’s clash saw TKR restrict the Barbados franchise for 93/9 in the first innings owing to spectacular bowling performances from Khary Pierre (3/16), Jayden Seales (2/12), Akeal Hosein (2/13) and Sunil Narine (2/30).
TKR cruised to a victorious 99/4 after 16.5 overs with Kiwi international Colin Munro, 41 not out, leading the charge.
The defending champions won the toss and opted to field.
Barbados Royals had a fair start from openers Kyle Mayers (24) and Johnson Charles (14).
But when Mayers departed at 24/1, the Bajan franchise began to crumble.
Wickets fell consistently owing to TKR’s stellar spells.
Mayers topped the scoring with his early contribution while Joshua Bishop finished on an unbeaten 17.
In reply, TKR had a horror start as they lost opener Lendl Simmons to a first-ball duck.
But they rallied on and chipped away at the small target to grab the win with 19 balls to spare.
Munro partnered with Darren Bravo (19) to spearhead a 39-run partnership in the middle.
Bravo soon departed, alongside Tim Seifert (14), which paved the way for Munro and Akeal Hosein to lead the troops home.
Chasing such a low target, Pollard said the batsmen may have taken a bit too long to achieve the total. He was still pleased with the end result.
“I thought today (Thursday), that we took a couple overs too much to get that score. Having said that, a victory is a victory, two points most important. Onwards and upwards from here and hopefully we can continue,” Pollard said.
Rounding off the CPLT20 table are St Lucia Kings in third position, followed by Guyana Amazon Warriors, Jamaican Tallawahs and Barbados Royals respectively.
TKR meet SKNP at 7pm on both Saturday and Sunday.
ROYALS 93 for nine off 20 overs (Kyle Mayers 24; Khary Pierre 3-16, Jayden Seales 2-12, Akeal Hosein 2-13)
TKR 99 for four off 16.5 overs (Colin Munro 41 not out; Mohammad Amir 2-19, Joshua Bishop 2-29)