Trinbago Knight Riders secured their second victory in the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2019 with a 22-win over Jamaica Tallawahs, although Andre Russell threatened another raid.
Last year, Russell had almost single-handedly won a game against the Knight Riders from a seemingly impossible position with a century to eternity, and for a while he threatened something similar in a game that had otherwise dominated TKR.
The Tallawahs needed 99 out of 42 when Russell hit the crease, but he smoked the third ball he looked tall and handsome over a long six-year period. When he muscled the next on the floor and was dropped by Neesham – the ball rolled into the rope for a good shot – a repeat of 2018 seemed all too possible.
In the end, however, he simply had too much left over on that occasion. Despite three other monster maxima and the strong support of George Worker, who finished with 46 and more in an exciting 67-run booth, it was a virgin CPL half century for Tion Webster and Sunil Narine. That was crucial for the Knight Riders ,
Webster fought his way through the TKR innings for his unbeaten 66, with the Knight Riders receiving early boost from Narine’s Rapid Fire 46 in third. Kieron Pollard prevailed at the end of the innings with 33 points and raised the total to 191/4 before Narine increased his night work by 2/23 from four overs.
Narine fell to the first wicket of the Tallawahs after striking with the decisive dismissal of Glenn Phillip. The Kiwi Keeper Batsman was the tournament’s second highest runscorer last season, but scored only 6 points in his first run of the Hero CPL 2019 before being thrown by a thrown-out player.
Chris Gayle scored two sixs against Mohammad Hosnain and Ali Khan when he returned to Tallawah’s colors, but dropped to the American’s next ball for 28 when sub-fielder Akeal Hosein held a juggling catch in the deep midline.
Rovman Powell chose Khary Pierre in the depths to give Seekkuge Prasanna a wicket on his first handover so that the Tallawah’s three would lie down and fall well below the required rate.
The pressure was on. Narine, Pierre and Prasanna had combined 2/32 out of seven overs on a leg to leave the Tallawahs halfway through the innings.
Something had to give, and there was a loose opening of Jimmy Neesham. Chadwick Walton smeared a high full-hit six times over the border to the third man and added two more frontiers, which brought a total of 17, but still left the target with a massive 109 out of 48 balls.
The return of Narine brought the end of Walton, Neesham took over the catch, but that brought Russell on the fold.
Narine had sailed miles over Midwicket for Russell’s second six, and although the finish had reached 71 out of 24 at the time, no one was prepared to name it for the Knight Riders while Dre Russ remained.
Russell beat Ali Khan two more foursome before Worker scored a no-ball for four. The next ball rattled on the sideline, and Khan and his teammates briefly forgot that it was a free-kick.
Remarkably, Russell was given another life when a mistake lay deep in cover and the Knight Riders’ nerves were visible to all. Worker showed a margin over Third-Man for four and the Knight Riders feared the worst.
In truth, however, there was no room for error and too many points balls between the six made it for the Tallawahs, with the target jumping from two overs to 50 and finally 32 out of five when Russell finally fell and Neesham got caught by the fence.
Earlier in the night, the Knight Riders’ innings were out of breath and rarely faded. Lendl Simmons set the tone by slashing Oshane Thomas’ first-ever ball overnight, point-by-point, and adding a hero’s maximum before the end came out.
However, he crashed in the second round, deceived by Christopher Lamont’s vortex and bowed. That brought Narine into the middle for a whirlwind innings. In the first four balls he had beaten two fours, beaten a six on Long-On, and sent a steepler on Long-Leg, which was dropped by Gayle.
TKR had 27/1 of only 12 balls on the board when everyone was trying to catch their breath. Jerome Taylor was unable to calm things down as he bowled three wides in his first round before Narine took over three more bounds – two fours and one more hero maximum – from Thomas’s second frontier.
Two gates in two overs seemed ready to check the Knight Riders’ progress as Narine set off against Shamar Springer at Walton for a thrilling ball shot 46 out of 22 and Neesham, the man of the match, two nights ago in the prelude In the tournament, Steven Jacobs scored for just 6 minutes.
Instead, Webster simply accepted the challenge. He was content to be the silent partner while Narine was having fun and crashed 14 in three balls before Springer to start the eleventh one over again and scream TKR after 100.
Another costly catch for the Tallawahs was when Jacobs rescued Denesh Ramdin after hooking a Thomas bouncer at the head. It should have been taken.
The Keeper of Knight Riders had only 5 at that time to his name, but prevailed with two fours and a six by Lamont, before Webster from 37 balls to his first hero CPL changed.
Ramdin was cleared by a low Russell full throw for 21, but that only made Pollard kinky. Perhaps surprisingly, his arrival led to almost the only pause he took in the innings when he gave himself some balls to get his eye in.
The respite was short. Pollard smashed two fours in the round of 16, Pollard and Webster one in the nineteenth, before Rovman Powell surprisingly parried the ball – he caught the ball and threw him back into the game as he flew over the perimeter wire. A six became a one.
Thomas scored a fine final shot, but Pollard still hit the last ball of the innings on the fence. In the end, it was Pollard who had the edge in the battle of the great all-rounders. But it was getting tense for a while.