THE Trinbago Knight Riders’ best collective bowling performance of the season resulted in St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots being knocked out of the 2019 Hero Caribbean Premier League.
The defending champions eased to a six-wicket win in the first elimination playoff yesterday at the National Stadium, Providence, and are through to the semi-final on Thursday when they will meet Barbados Tridents for a place in the summit clash against the Guyana Amazon Warriors on Saturday.
Crucially, that game for TKR will be on home soil at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba, the same venue where they had won back-to-back titles in 2018, where they’ll have a huge home crowd behind them.
The TKR looked heavy favorites at the innings break after they limited the Patriots for just 125-7, but were struggling midway through the chase with Denesh Ramdin (32* off 38 balls), in particular soaking up a high number of dot balls.
However, Kieron Pollard played a blistering cameo, a 9-ball 26 to keep the three-time champions alive, reaching 128-4 in 18.4 overs in a calculated run-chase.
Earlier, the Patriots hadn’t had its best start with the bat, after they were asked to take first strike under overcast conditions, but they never let the Patriots’ batsmen got away, constantly keeping the pressure on them.
Player-of-the-match, Sunil Narine, in particular, despite nursing an injured bowling finger, was nearly unplayable.
He wasn’t 100% fit but gutted it out to take 2-10, including a phenomenal 19 dot balls.
Chris Jordan ended with three wickets.
Laurie Evans was the only batsman who could get going in ensuring the Patriots reached a respectable total.
The 31-year-old Englishman struck eight boundaries in a top-score of 55 off 47 balls.
There was indeed some moisture and openers – Mohammad Hafeez and Evin Lewis– took little risk on what appeared to be a slow surface.
Both struggled for timing and in the end, they fell cheaply. Hafeez was the first to go, miscuing an Ali-Khan delivery to cover where Akeal Hosein completed a sharp overhead catch for 11, while Shamarh Brooks (5), who also struggled for timing, was bowled through his defence by Chris Jordan.
Sadly for the Patriots, Lewis went off a return catch to Sunil Narine for just nine off 17 balls, leaving the scoreboard at 3-30.
Evans and Devon Thomas provided a mini recovery, but, Thomas’ dismissal, lbw to Narine for ten, proved to be a pivotal moment. Evans kept up some sort of momentum, but the TKR bowlers came back strongly at the death to restrict them to a sub-par total.
The TKR was then reduced to 31-3 at the end of the powerplay overs on a pitch that seemed to have gotten two-paced by the time the defending champions began their chase.
Narine (8), Colin Munroe (0) and Darren Bravo (1) went cheaply. However, Lendl Simmons was firm at the other end, despite only 43 runs being scored at the halfway stage of the chase.
At that point, the Patriots’ bowlers then briefly made their total look bigger with clever pace variations and despite Simmons’ stop-start half-century– his fifth this season — Knight Riders fell behind the asking rate on a pitch where stroke-making was difficult.
When Simmons, who struck three fours and a similar number of sixes holed out for 51 in the 16th over, TKR still needed 48 off 27 balls, but Ramdin, who was stuttering along, opened up against Sheldon Cottrell in the 17th over, in which 18 runs came, and then Pollard, who was braving an injury, took over and ensured that they didn’t fold.
Pollard smashed Carlos Brathwaite for a hat-trick of boundaries to seal the victory