Sport-Filler

TEN-SATIONAL! That was the mood of the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy yesterday as they demolished St Kitts and Nevis Patriots by nine wickets, their biggest win of the season, to complete a record equalling 10-of-10 in the round robin stage at this year’s Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL).

“I think we’ve been pretty good for 10,” said TKR captain Kieron Pollard. “Ten out of ten is magnificent. All credit must go to the support staff, the guys, the players, each and every one who came out day-in, day-out. The first step is always to qualify.

He added: “Now we qualify is a situation where it’s knock-out straight away, and it’s just to come and take it as we’ve been doing for the last 10 games or so.”

But yesterday’s performance was better than pretty good as TKR put a stranglehold on the match which they never released. Set a modest 78 for victory after Patriots won the toss and opted to bat first, openers Tion Webster and Amir Jangoo laid the foundation with an opening stand of 54 off the first eight overs, the pair rotating the strike sensibly in between scoring the odd boundary.

When Jangoo fell, first delivery of the ninth over, caught at the wicket flashing at one just outside off-stump from Rayad Emrit, he had scored 19 off 24 balls (1x4), and TKR needed just the 24 off 71 balls.

They got there off just an additional 20 deliveries. Tim Siefert (16 not out, 12 balls) smashed Colin Archibald’s third delivery of the 12th over, for a huge maximum over deep midwicket, to take TKR home. Meanwhile, Webster stroked an unbeaten 41 off 33 balls, which included five boundaries—two off Sheldon Cottrell in the first over; two more off Imran Khan in the fourth; and one maximum —in setting the tone early.

However, Pollard admitted that going perfect in the round robin stage was never part of TKR’s planning. “I’d be lying if I said yes. It’s not something that we envisioned, we just spoke about having to play 12 games in the tournament and trying to be the best that we can be for 12 games.”

Earlier, in reading the wicket correctly, TKR decided to opt for all spin in the Powerplay overs, using the left-right combination of Akeal Hosein and Sikandar Raza.

Hosein removed Chris Lynn in the third over, caught by Jangoo at deep midwicket, and Raza accounted for the dangerous Evin Lewis, caught at the wicket in the sixth over, with the score at 25-2.

Replacing Hosein and Raza with Fawad Ahmed and Pravin Tambe, TKR continued with their spin attack and the leg spinners ran through Patriots’ middle order to leave them floundering at 33-5 after nine overs.

Ahmed had Ben Dunk brilliantly caught by Tambe in the seventh, sprinting around at to his right at backward point and diving forward to snap up the ball, off an attempted reverse scoop, before trapping Khan leg before in the ninth. And Tambe deceived Joshua Da Silva with a quicker delivery that went straight on, striking his pad in front of the wicket, for an easy lbw decision, in the eighth over.

Ahmed picked up two more wickets in the 16th. He bowled Emrit with one that struck bat then pad before rolling onto the stumps, and had debutant Colin Archibald smartly stumped by Siefert, who on realising the batsman was overbalancing, waited until his backfoot came up slightly before removing the bails. Ahmed finished with figures of 4-21 from four overs to secure the Man-of-the-Match award.

And Hosein added the scalp of Alzarri Joseph to finish with 2-25, while pacers Ali Khan and Anderson Phillip, who both bowled at the backend of the innings, snapped up a wicket apiece as the Patriots were knocked over for 77, off 18.2 overs.

In defeat, Patriots earned the unwanted distinction of being the first team to complete a CPL innings without hitting a four, though they struck five maximums.

Commenting on TKR winning despite not being at full strength, with the absence of Lendl Simmons, Sunil Narine, Colin Munro, Dwayne Bravo, Khary Pierre and Jayden Seales from yesterday’s line-up, Pollard said it is a great headache to have.

“Each and every person that came into this campaign came in and gave us something. One of the conversations we had is that no one was dropped on performance. So, it’s just a matter of us trying to play the conditions and play what is best for us,” explained the TKR skipper.

He said it was just a matter of giving guys the opportunity and for the guys to come out and try to execute and perform. “It’s a shoot-out come Tuesday for that final berth,” he noted, adding, “and we’re going to come and try to see if we can continue playing good cricket and hopefully all goes well for us.”

Meanwhile, Patriots’ captain, Rayad Emrit was critical of his team’s batting performance. “Our batting just didn’t turn up in the entire tournament. We have no excuses now,” lamented Emrit. “It’s been a miserable tournament for most of us and it’s just for us to learn. I guess we didn’t learn quickly during the tournament, and we played the best team in the tournament today and we see why they are number one and why we’re last.”

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