The Trinbago Knight Riders spinners blasted a hole in the Jamaica Tallawahs top order to set up a cruise to a sub-par total with a full five overs to go, and leave themselves one win away from completing the first perfect season in Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) history.
Knight Riders captain Kieron Pollard had enough faith in his opening bowlers to start with himself at short leg, and Akeal Hosein repaid that faith by bowling Jermaine Blackwood. The Tallawahs sprung a surprise sending Mujeeb Ur Rahman in at number three, who just about played out a wicket-maiden.
The Tallawahs were rocked further when Glenn Phillips cut Khary Pierre to Ali Khan. Nkrumah Bonner finally hit the game’s first boundary, easing Hosein through cover, but the Mujeeb experiment failed as he edged a reverse sweep onto his pad and was caught at slip, and the Tallawahs had slumped to 10/3 off three overs.
Five wides from Pierre and a straight four by Bonner more than doubled the Tallawahs tally, but while Asif Ali got off the mark with a four-over Hosein’s head he fell next ball cutting to Pollard at a point. Pollard immediately went back into the short leg and kept himself there for the returning Sunil Narine who went for just three to close out a dominant Powerplay for the Knight Riders, after which the Tallawahs were reeling at 28/4.
Bonner continued to resist – the cut Fawad Ahmed powerfully for four, a misfield gave him another off Narine to take him to 30, and he pulled Fawad to take the Tallawahs past 50. Pierre returned with a tight over that went for just three, and at the 10 over the mark, the Tallawahs were 55/4.
Hosein bowled out with an over of just five, and Fawad ended Bonner’s resistance with a quick googly. That finally brought Andre Russell to the crease, but Narine put an end to his innings before it got going. Russell was beaten in the flight, the ball looped to DJ Bravo at slip and the umpire adjudged it came off bat and pad. The Tallawahs had lost their biggest weapon and were 68/6 in the 14th.
Three more boundary-less overs came and went. Rovman Powell had now faced 32 balls for his 26 runs, Carlos Brathwaite had managed only one off his 10 balls, and something had to give off Pierre’s last over. Powell hit one Hero Maximum, the first of the innings, but picked out Pollard at deep mid-off trying to repeat the shot next ball. Even with that six, he finished under a run a ball, and the Tallawahs were 92/7 off 18.
Brathwaite was lucky not to be run out the first ball of the 19th, bowled by DJ Bravo whose three overs didn’t contain a single boundary. Ali Khan got the unusual job of bowling only the 20th over, and while Brathwaite finished the innings with a Hero Maximum that was only the third boundary in the last 11 overs of the innings.
Lendl Simmons steered then pulled Fidel Edwards for consecutive fours to end the first over, but Narine wasn’t able to provide his usual powerful start, bowled by Mujeeb’s arm ball. Powell followed Pollard’s aggressive lead by putting himself at short leg, but Tion Webster was not intimidated, slapping Veerasammy Permaul through cover then slicing him for four to ruin a tight start to the over. After three overs, the Knight Riders were 23/1.
Webster was confident enough to cut Mujeeb’s googly for four, and with wickets, a must Powell for the first time in Hero CPL 2020 went to Sandeep Lamichhane in the Powerplay. Simmons paddled him for four first ball and then pulled Mujeeb to the fence, and the Knight Riders closed the Powerplay at 42/1. The required run rate was already under five an over.
Simmons marred a good over from Lamichhane with a slog-swept Hero Maximum, bringing up the Knight Riders’ 50. Simmons and Webster were able to work Lamichhane around as no-one had all tournament, and though Permaul’s second went for just two and his third was a maiden, at halfway the Knight Riders were comfortable at 61/1, needing just 47 more to win.
Russell was called on to bowl, but Simmons pulled him for a Hero Maximum and, when Russell bowled a second short ball which was called a no-ball, helicoptered the free hit for four. Permaul bowled out with another economical over, but Simmons again pulled Russell for six to take 10 off the 13th over. The Knight Riders were now 90/1 and needed just 18 more.
Webster guided Lamichhane through cover for four to end the Nepali’s only wicketless spell of an excellent tournament, and Simmons became the leading 50-maker in the tournament’s history, overtaking Chris Gayle with a cover drive for four off Brathwaite, and Webster finished the job that same over.
Simmons needs just three more runs in Thursday’s final to overtake Gayle as Hero CPL’s all-time leading scorer. Much more importantly though, the Knight Riders have a chance to do what last year’s Guyana Amazon Warriors could not, and in doing so win a fourth Hero CPL title. The victors in the second semi will have a mighty task to deny them.
Mini Scorecard of Semi-Final 1 TKR v JT
Jamaica Tallawahs 107/7 (Bonner 41, Powell 33; Hosein 3/14, Pierre 2/29, Narine 1/13, Fawad 1/29)
Trinbago Knight Riders 111/1 (Simmons 54*, Webster 44*; Mujeeb 1/18)
Result Trinbago Knight Riders won by 9 wickets
Upcoming Fixture: Tuesday 8 September – Semi-Final 2: Guyana Amazon Warriors v St Lucia Zouks (5:30 pm Local Timme), Brian Lara Cricket Academy
TKR remains unbeaten in the CPL 2020 Featured image: Credit: CPL via Getty Images