TRINBAGO Knight Riders (TKR) captain Kieron Pollard pointed to his team's depth as one of the primary reasons why the TT franchise is one win away from lifting an unprecedented fifth Republic Bank Caribbean Premier League crown.
TKR sealed a spot in the final with a seven-wicket win over Guyana Amazon Warriors in qualifier one at Providence Stadium, Guyana on Wednesday night. TKR are filled with T20 stars with the likes of Pollard, Sunil Narine, Nicholas Pooran, Akeal Hosein, Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell in the team.
However, TKR did not rely solely on those players in qualifier one, instead leaning heavily on others. Fast bowler Terrance Hinds, playing in just his third match of the tournament out of a possible 11, grabbed 2/32 in four overs to help restrict Amazon Warriors to 166/7 in 20 overs.
In reply, opener Chadwick Walton top scored with 80 not out to steer TKR to 167/3 in 18.1 overs. Walton, with Martin Guptill unfit, grabbed the opportunity in his fifth match of the campaign.
Speaking to TKR media, Pollard said it is not only about the stars.
"They continue to focus on the superstars, but we as superstars – and I will say yes, we are superstars, we continue to help the youngsters because we want to see them go out on the field and progress," Pollard said.
"At the end of it we are not going to be around much longer and they are going to be the ones who are going to take (up the mantle), so we need to give them every single bit of knowledge and experience, so they can take it forward. I think that is the hallmark of a very good team...
"When you look at it, throughout this entire campaign each and every person had a vital role to play at some point in time throughout this entire tournament."
Opener Mark Deyal, left-arm spinner Waqar Salamkheil and batsman Keacy Carty, not world T20 stars, have also played well for TKR. Salamkheil has delivered in his first season with TKR, as he is the joint leading wicket-taker for the franchise with 11 wickets along with Russell.
Pollard also thanked the coaching staff of TKR, which includes head coach Phil Simmons and assistant coaches Ravi Rampaul and Nikita Miller. "Very proud, very happy for the bunch of guys inside of there...Proper planning from the support staff. The way we came out and bowled against the Guyana Amazon Warriors, restricting them to 166 and then going out and chasing it – the guys inside of there must be given credit."
Pollard said the team will try to stay level-headed, despite being just one win away from a record fifth title.
"Emotions need to be level. You can't get too high because then there is over confidence, and you get too low then you are trying to dig yourself out of a hole.
"Again, this is sport, somebody has to win and somebody has to lose and as a team you will know where you falter as a team and as individuals, and it is just a matter of trying to right the wrongs and come back again. You keep coming back, because if you don't keep coming back then you don't get the opportunity to do better.
"We are going to enjoy tonight and we are going to see who we are going to come up against in the final."
The winner of qualifier two between Amazon Warriors and Jamaica Tallawahs on Friday will face TKR in Sunday's final. Both matches bowl off at 7 pm at Providence Stadium.