Tino Best (right) of Barbados Tridents express disappointment during Match 11 of the 2017 Hero Caribbean Premier League between Barbados Tridents and Trinbago Knight Riders at Queen's Park Oval on August 12, 2017 in Port of Spain, Trinidad. (Picture by Randy Brooks − CPL T20/Getty Images)
PORT OF SPAIN − A maiden Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) fifty for Sunil Narine guided the Trinbago Knight Riders to a two-wicket victory against Barbados Tridents in Match 11 of the this year’s tournament.
Narine’s career highest score of 79 was aided by some good fortune: three simple catches to dismiss him were put down and multiple edges flew into vacant regions. The nature of his innings belied the stability it offered the Knight Riders who lost regular wickets but Narine’s boundary-hitting ability ensured they stayed on top of the rate.
The Knight Riders’ run chase got off to a bad start with Brendon McCullum, bowled fourth ball by a Wayne Parnell yorker. Things got worse shortly after when Colin Munro was caught on the boundary off Shoaib Malik, leaving the Knight Riders 28 for 2 after 3.3 overs.
A partnership of 47 off 39 balls between Darren Bravo and Narine arrested the Knight Riders’ slide but when Bravo was dismissed on the cusp of the drinks break by Wahab Riaz and Denesh Ramdin was caught in the deep immediately after it the Tridents moved into the ascendency once more.
Through all of this Narine endured; batting deeper into the innings than in any match in which he had opened the batting. Between ball 6.2 and 13.2 Narine faced 19 balls and only failed to score off one of them. He regularly found the boundary during his innings, hitting five sixes and six fours; 54 of his runs came on the leg side. Single-handedly, despite wickets falling at the other end, he hauled his team to the total.
When he was finally dismissed, caught off a top edge at mid-wicket, the Knight Riders were just eight shy of their target with 11 balls remaining. Despite another wicket falling, which reduced the Knight Riders to eight wickets down, Kevon Cooper drove a four to seal the match with five balls to spare.
Earlier in the evening, after being put into bat, the Tridents innings got off to a frenetic start with Dwayne Smith and pinch-hitter Wayne Parnell both dismissed inside the first two overs with 19 runs scored.
The wicket of Parnell meant Malik joined Kane Williamson at the crease and together the pair combined in a busy partnership of 71 off 61 balls. Against the excellent bowling of Shadab Khan, Narine, Kevon Cooper and Dwayne Bravo the experienced pair rotated the strike expertly − at one stage going 23 deliveries without a dot ball.
When Williamson was dismissed − top edging a sweep off Shadab − for 30 off 35 balls he and Malik had laid a platform for the lower order to capitalise on.
However, Pollard struggled where Malik and Williamson thrived. Immediately after the wicket, Pollard faced 11 of the 18 remaining balls from Shadab and Narine, scoring just four runs. The pressure on him to make up for a cautious start was palpable.
After moving past 7 000 career T20 runs Malik was dismissed for 51 off 38 balls as he looked to kick on, caught at mid-off against Beaton, leaving the Tridents 102 for 3 after 15.3 overs.
Malik’s demise brought Nicolas Pooran to the crease who assumed Pollard’s role as he himself struggled to, by hitting back to back sixes and a four off Cooper to finally accelerate the innings before holing out when attempting to hit a fourth.
A superb eighteenth over from Beaton saw the run out of Christopher Barnwell and just five runs conceded, leaving the Tridents looking short at 128 for 6 with 12 balls remaining. Four lusty blows − one from Shamar Springer, one from Pollard and two from Akeal Hosein helped propel the Tridents beyond 150. With the final ball of the innings Bravo bowled Pollard with a perfect yorker, dismissing him for 14 off 22 balls. Despite the late boundaries the Tridents had struggled to accelerate.
The next match is today at 6 p.m. when the St Lucia Stars take on the Guyana Amazon Warriors at the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground in St Lucia. (CPL)