STAND-IN St Lucia Kings captain Andre Fletcher believes Kieron Pollard’s dismissal in Tuesday’s Hero Caribbean Premier League T20 semi-final was the deciding factor in his team’s crucial 21-run victory over the defending champions at Warner Park in St Kitts.
After the St Lucia franchise piled on a hefty 205/4, Pollard’s quick-fire 26 runs from 13 balls partnered with good batting contributions from Sunil Narine (30), Denesh Ramdin (29), Colin Munro (28) and Darren Bravo (25), strengthened TKR’s chances of a possible win.
However, when the TKR captain attempted another big shot, which lofted the ball into Fletcher’s gloves, the remaining four wickets fell for just 11 runs and saw the defending champions removed for 184 with three balls remaining.
Ten overs into TKR’s innings, during the drinks break, Fletcher said the team talk with coach Andy Flower and team mentor Daren Sammy proved pivotal in helping motivate the squad to victory.
At that time, TKR were 99/3 and in need of 106 runs from the remaining 60 balls with Bravo and Ramdin in the middle.
“During the break, the coach said it was not a bad time (for us) and that we were doing well. It was just for us to peg them (TKR) back a bit because they were going at the required run rate, knowing that Pollard had not come on as yet.
“We knew it wasn’t over and we were trying our best to see if we could get the run rate as high as possible by the time Pollard came in. We can’t take anything away; Ramdin played well, the other guys played well and it was an honour to see when Pollard got out.”
Winning the toss and opting to bat first, brazen knocks from Mark Deyal (78), Tim David (38 not out), David Wiese (34 not out) and Roston Chase (36) propelled the St Lucia franchise over the 200-run mark for the second time at this year’s tournament.
Spinner Sunil Narine was the most economical of TKR’s bowling attack as he bagged one wicket, the main man Deyal, for 12 runs. Pacer Ravi Rampaul (1/56) was most expensive with the ball this time around.
In their turn at the crease, TKR looked good although losing Lendl Simmons (4) early on. Narine brought some stability to the innings but a well-worked 41-run partnership from Bravo and Ramdin partnered with Pollard’s contribution brought hope to the chasing team.
His dismissal brought the team crashing down and eliminated their chances of a possible title repeat.
South African pacer David Wiese (5/39) captured his second five-for of the tournament while Guyanese fast bowler Keemo Paul (2/21) and Pakistan’s Wahab Riaz (2/36) topped the bowling.
This result propelled the Kings into their second consecutive final, having lost out to TKR at last year’s edition.
Fletcher, who led the team into battle owing to Faf du Plessis’ recent injury, was pleased to have been able to produce such a result and secure another shot at the elusive title. The Kings have never won the CPL since its inception in 2013.
“I’m very humble and happy knowing that the coaching staff believed in me and getting the support from the players. I just want to ensure that we cross that hurdle (final), win that championship and then, to God be the glory,” Fletcher added.
The ousted TKR captain however, accepted that the St Lucia franchise was the better team on the day.
“I think they (Kings) came out and they were positive, winning the toss and deciding to bat. You’ve got to give them credit; they were the better team today.
“Sometimes when you lose a game like this you’ve got to give credit to the opposition, you can’t win all. Congratulations to my team, very proud of the way we fought today. You cannot ask for a better cricket game,” Pollard said in the post-match interview.
The 2020 title-winning captain said his team may have given away a bit too much runs in the middle overs, which aided the Kings’ progression to such a high target of 206.
Although eliminated, the burly all-rounder was in high praise of his team’s bowling attack throughout the competition. Ravi Rampaul, Akeal Hosein and Sunil Narine all showed grit but Pollard said the team could have been a bit more consistent in their batting performances.
“We fought to the end. The way that we bowled; Ravi Rampaul, bowling well coming back into CPL after a couple years, young Akeal Hosein doing well for us, guys getting opportunities and that’s all you want.
“I thought we played some decent cricket and some great cricket throughout the season. We struggled with the bat a bit but getting our biggest total of the series in a semi-final game, chasing 205, and the way the guys went about to chase it, we were never in doubt,” he said.
Pollard closed, “So I can’t go and fault them and say ‘you could have done this or you could have done that’. At the end of the day we came to play cricket and everyone was geared up for this game and it didn’t happen (win) for us.”
ST LUCIA KINGS 205/4 – Mark Deyal 78, Tim David 38 not out, David Wiese 34 not out, Roston Chase 36, Sunil Narine 1/12 defeated TRINBAGO KNIGHT RIDERS 184 (19.3) – Sunil Narine 30, Denesh Ramdin 29, Colin Munro 28, Kieron Pollard 26; David Wiese 5/39, Keemo Paul 2/21, Wahab Riaz 2/36