A powerful 47er of the new skipper Kieron Pollard and all-round heroics of the New Zealand star Jimmy Neesham helped the two-time defending champion Trinbago Knight Riders to open the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) in 2019 with an exciting 11-run victory over St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots.
Pollard, who led after Dwayne Bravo’s finger injury, set his team up to 152/7 after Neesham and Denesh Ramdin’s 60-year partnership had begun the champion’s recovery from an early break to 24/3.
After clinching his 33-hit survival, Neesham made the crucial first break with the ball to complete a 47-minute opening partnership. Kjorn Ottley caught and threw a slower ball for 25 before beating Evin Lewis for 36 against the impressive Khary. Pierre unleashes a decisive collapse of four wickets for six runs.
Later, Neesham returned and defended nerveless 13 against the final of the game. The last two wickets were thrown on the stumps with two low throws to win.
The quest of the Patriots after 153 – no more than a par score with the rope making life difficult for the bowlers – seemed to be in the hands of 70/1. Three overs later stood on the scoreboard 76/5 after Pierre and Spin Twin Seekkuge Prasanna had torn the heart out of the middle order.
Jason Mohammed fell in love with a duck and Devon Thomas fell in only 1, while Carlos Brathwaite lost only 2 after a terrible mistake.
That seemed to be that, but Fabian Allen raised the visitors’ hopes by firing Prasanna’s third four-six goal – an attack that was even more amazing than just three runs, a wicket and that run-out from the first two Sri Lanka originated.
Allen, however, was met by Prasanna himself in front of Mohammad Hasnain in the next over 30 of only 14 balls outstanding on the third man. Usama Mir bravely took on the task with 24 of only 10 balls, including an amazing six-leg ramp over fine leg before Hasnain, but in the end he just had too much to do.
He was overwhelmed by Neesham in the final and was quickly followed by the last man, Sheldon Cottrell, who had been the first star of negotiations at Queen’s Park Oval with outstanding numbers of 3/13 of his four overs.
His signature Salute Celebration celebrated his first appearance in the Hero CPL 2019 in his – and the tournament – first-round, when Sunil Narine was flawless and Tion Webster followed shortly thereafter. Cottrell then returned to the back of the innings to remove the well-placed ramdin.
Ramdin’s partnership with Neesham had taken the Knight Riders out of this hole before Pollard’s fireworks raised them to a sum that turned out to be beyond the Patriots. Ramdin took two sixes and knocked the experienced Mohammad Hafeez out of the attack when the defending champion started defending himself.
Neesham scored three fours in his first nine balls to give the much-needed boost and finished off the 1950s partnership with his first six, taking off his pads over Midwicket in front of Brathwaite.
But Brathwaite retaliated quickly in the field when the New Zealand star fell shortly after a fine deep-sea fishing the Patriots skipper who came in from the boring and experienced sailor Rayad Emrit as the first of his three doors.
Pakistani leg-spinner Usama conceded only seven goals on his first two overs, while Pollard drew his attention. A short ball was kicked high and handsome in the stands before an overcorrected ball shot past the bowler and a moment later was shot back from the boundary boards.
With that, the drive was restored, and three more limits – one for Ramdin, two for Pollard – followed in the next by Brathwaite.
Pollard was in a good mood now, and when an Emrit-No-ball offered a free kick, that was all the encouragement he needed. The ball duly disappeared directly over the head of the bowler to get another 50-run stand.
As things began to go awry for the Patriots, Brathwaite turned to his captain Cottrell for the 18th innings and immediately got a result when a beautifully disguised slow ball seduced Ramdin to rise to a deep quadrilateral where Allen the Schlichten held up a chance.
Brathwaite himself followed with a fine penultimate and gave up only four singles to defeat his opposite Pollard.
It should not give half a century for Pollard, who was caught in the final over the innings for 47 of two Emrit victims on the fence, but he had done enough to equip his team for a successful start to the title defense.