Port of Spain, September 2: The Trinbago Knight Riders marked the return of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL 2020) to the Brian Lara Cricket Academy with a seventh straight win.
Kieron Pollard and Colin Munro smashed 71 off the last five overs of the Trinbago Knight Riders' innings, and the spinners bowled superbly against a Jamaica Tallawahs top-order that once again left Andre Russell with far too much to do.
Sunil Narine returned with a bang, hitting two fours off Fidel Edwards and top-edging for six to take 17 off the first over, then he plundered Carlos Brathwaite for three fours in a row. Brathwaite recovered to take Narine's wicket, but the all-rounder's 29 off 11 had sent the Knight Riders flying out of the blocks.
Colin Munro should have fallen for just 4, but Jermaine Blackwood dropped a simple catch. While Lendl Simmons smashed Edwards for a six over square leg, Mujeeb was miserly as ever and it was largely thanks to Narine that the Knight Riders managed 49/1 off the Powerplay.
Munro found the fence twice off Tallawahs captain Rovman Powell, and while Sandeep Lamichhane proved unhittable, Powell's second over released the pressure, going for 14 including multiple extras. Lamichhane showed his class, dismissing Simmons with a leg-break that drew a top-edged hack to point. Munro inside-edged past the keeper to take the Knight Riders to 83/2 at halfway.
Munro edged for four again off Powell, but was bamboozled by Lamichhane and was lucky to survive. Brathwaite bowled a tidy over, and while Seifert managed to reverse sweep Lamichhane for four, that was the only boundary the Nepali conceded all day. After 14 overs, the Knight Riders were 105/2.
Seifert smote Edwards over his head for six then next ball slashed to Lamichhane at third man. But Munro got two reverse-sweeps away for four in a row off Mujeeb, and Powell was too predictable as Munro was able to adjust and swing a six then a four over midwicket to take himself to 50. An over studded with extras went for 18.
Pollard levered a near-yorker for six then pulled for four off Mujeeb, and Edwards twice paid for missing his yorker, Pollard dispatching a full toss for a six and Munro smoking a half-volley for four. Brathwaite got the daunting task of bowling the 20th, and Pollard heaped the pressure on with a six. Munro pulled for four, and while Brathwaite closed the innings with a caught-and-bowled, the damage was done.
Chadwick Walton's difficult CPL 2020 continued as he slashed the first ball of the innings to point, giving Akeal Hosein a dream start. While Blackwood started brightly, Pierre bowled him as he attempted to sweep, reducing the Tallawahs to 14/2 in the second over.
The Knight Riders were on top, so much so Pollard put himself at short leg for Narine, who went for just two. Hosein returned and went for just six, and off the Powerplay the Tallawahs had stuttered to 35/2 with the in-form Glenn Phillips facing just nine balls.
The nine runs that came off Narine's second was largely due to poor fielding, but Phillips's Hero Maximum off Fawad Ahmed was a fine hit. Phillips also cut DJ Bravo for four as two overs in a row went for double figures, but Pierre returned with a tight over, and at halfway the Tallawahs were 70/2 and needed 11.50 an over.
Phillips hit another six off Fawad, but Nkrumah Bonner had slowed almost to a crawl before falling LBW in the same over. Powell made little impact before being bowled by a Fawad googly, and so when Andre Russell came to the crease the Tallawahs were 84/4 in the 13th and needed over 13 an over.
Dwayne Bravo chose an off-side heavy field to restrict Russell. But it was the well-set Phillips who fell, slicing high in the air to give Seifert a simple catch. When Narine produced a good caught-and-bowled to dismiss Asif Ali, Russell found himself with Brathwaite for recognised company and a required run rate above 15.
Brathwaite clipped for four when Bravo strayed onto his pads, but was lucky not to find a fielder when he sliced a drive high in the air. Brathwaite guided a four and Russell clubbed a six off Narine's last over, but the Tallawahs still needed 68 off the last 18 balls.
Brathwaite and Russell targeted Jayden Seales, and though one of Russell's fours should have been caught by Simmons at cover, a 22 run over just about kept the Tallawahs in the game. But while Russell took Bravo for four through the off-side and was dropped by Seales at backward point, he couldn't manage another boundary and with 38 needed off the last over, the jig was up.
Pollard brought himself on to close out the game, and all a frustrated Russell was able to do was to limit the net run-rate damage with a few mighty blows. The Knight Riders machine rolls on.