Knight Riders gain revenge over Tallawahs with victory in final-ball thriller
Javon Searles slapped the final ball of the night for four as Trinbago Knight Riders produced their second successive unlikely Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) run-chase to gain revenge on Jamaica Tallawahs with a four-wicket victory in Florida.
Andre Russell’s one-man show had stunned the Knight Riders back in game three, but this time it was the Knight Riders captain Dwayne Bravo who was celebrating after his six-laden 11-ball 36 proved so crucial in snatching a victory that had looked so unlikely when Trinbago slumped to 28/3 at the end of the Power Play in pursuit of 183.
The two sides in truth produced uncannily similar innings at Central Broward Regional Park, with run-scoring proving difficult in the first 10 overs before rapid acceleration after the midway point. The Tallawahs turned 58/3 into a seemingly impenetrable 182/5 thanks to 80 from Glenn Phillips and 72* for David Miller; the Knight Riders surpassed it as a midway 62/3 became a matchwinning 184/6.
Darren Bravo, the hero of the victory over St Lucia Stars on Thursday, was to the fore again, striking five more Hero Maximums in a 35-ball 50 as he shared a century stand with Colin Munro, who filled the Phillips role with an expertly-paced 67 from 51 before being bowled round his legs by Russell.
Skipper Dwayne Bravo provided the crucial shot of impetus the Knight Riders needed with three successive sixes off Krishmar Santokie in the 18th over and five in all in a blistering 11-ball stay at the crease.
Having needed 12 an over from the eighth over onwards, the Knight Riders somehow needed just seven from the final over. But there was still a twist to come in this extraordinary game. Dwayne Bravo was caught on the boundary looking for the match-winning Hero Maximum to leave Javon Searles to find five runs from the last two balls. A scampered two to long-off and a slap through cover off the back foot to the boundary did the job to spark scenes of jubilation.
But the 106 added by Darren Bravo and Munro should not be forgotten among all that late drama. Without it the Knight Riders would have been doomed, and the influence of that duo for the champions this season is highlighted by the fact Darren Bravo now tops the Hero Maximum Race with 19, while Munro’s innings here took him ahead of St Lucia Stars captain Kieron Pollard at the top of the 2018 Hero CPL run-scoring charts.
For much of the game, Darren Bravo looked like he might be the Knight Riders’ fall guy after a costly dropped catch.
Phillips had made only 44 from 41 balls when Bravo spilled a simple chance at a time when the Tallawahs were still looking to recovering from their own slow start.
Left-arm spinner Khary Pierre came into the side with stunning and instant impact. He trapped Kennar Lewis lbw for just a single and also dismissed Steven Taylor cheaply as his four overs bowled off the reel at the top of the innings brought him 2/19.
With Ross Taylor also failing to reach double figures before falling to Fawad Ahmed, the Tallawahs were in significant early trouble.
Phillips and Miller were watchful, to the extent that the run-rate only climbed back above six in the 12th over.
The key moment of the innings arrived at the start of the 15th over. The Tallawahs were still on a flimsy-looking 91/3 with overs starting to run out when Phillips attempted a switch hit off Ahmed and sliced a simple catch to Darren Bravo in the deep. Inexplicably, the chance went begging.
When Phillips did fall four overs later he had 80 runs to his name from 55 balls and the score had moved on to 159/4. Phillips’ ferocious hitting after his let-off included another switch hit for six and a pair of outrageous ramp shots over wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin. He struck five Hero Maximums in all.
Miller was more fluent from the off, with his half-century coming up in just 25 balls with a nonchalant flick off his pads over square-leg for six. He was there at the end to dispatch the last two balls of the innings for a four and his fifth six of the day, way back over long-on, to finish on an unbeaten 72 from 34 balls.
In all, 80 came from the last five overs of the innings – and that was with Russell contributing only a couple of runs from a three-ball stay at the crease.
Momentum was firmly with the Tallawahs, and the Knight Riders needed a good start to their innings. They didn’t get it. Pinch-hitter Sunil Narine fell without scoring, caught by Russell at mid-on off left-arm spinner Imad Wasim, before a horrible mix-up in the calling saw Chris Lynn run out by half the length of the pitch to leave the run-chase in early disarray at 10/2.
The Power Play ended with Brendon McCullum carving Oshane Thomas to Steven Taylor at point. He made only 8, and the Knight Riders had limped to 28/3 in those first six overs.
They were leaving themselves even more work to do in the remainder of the innings than the Tallawahs had earlier in the day, with the required rate reaching two a ball as early as the ninth over.
Darren Bravo and Munro recovered the situation, though, before Dwayne Bravo and right at the very end Searles added the finishing touches to complete a thrilling victory.
The Knight Riders now have three wins from their five matches, as do the Tallawahs who have suffered back-to-back defeats in Florida after starting their campaign with three victories. (CPL)
Upcoming Fixtures: Tuesday 21 August – St Lucia Stars v St Kitts & Nevis Patriots (6pm), Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium, Wednesday 22 August – Jamaica Tallawahs v Barbados Tridents (6pm), Central Broward Regional Park, Lauderhill, Florida.