By Shashank Kishore
Trinbago Knight Riders 131 for 3 (McCullum 65*) beat Guyana Amazon Warriors 130 for 5 (Mohammed 66, Gajanand 27, Narine 1-11) by seven wickets
(ESPNcricinfo) Trinbago Knight Riders were without two of their highest wicket-takers – Shadab Khan and Kevon Cooper – who had 19 wickets between them this season, but on a slow Providence surface, Sunil Narine showed why he’s highly regarded in the shortest format, yet again. His spell of 1 for 11 off four overs ensured Guyana Amazon Warriors, whose 130 for 5 was overhauled comfortably.
Knight Riders overcame early losses but Brendon McCullum’s calming influence – he cut loose only bringing up a half-century – helped offset the damage as they sealed their sixth successful chase this season. Coming into this game, there was a mathematical miracle that could’ve ousted them. Not anymore. A place in the play-offs was emphatically secured, courtesy the nine-wicket win with plenty to spare.
Narine lands early punches
For a brief while after he returned from a remodelled action last year, Narine lacked bite. He was largely one-dimensional with batsmen playing him comfortably off the pitch, largely because they played him like a seamer. Even when he didn’t go for runs, getting among the wickets seemed a struggle. Now, the variations are back. He gets them to swerve in and out with the new ball and cut back sharply with the old, with the odd knuckle-ball thrown in between.
A special delivery – that would’ve made any offspinner proud – dismissed Martin Guptill. Looking to go inside-out over cover, Guptill was deceived in flight as the ball spun back in to sneak through the gap between bat and pad to smash into the stumps. It was the fifth time in nine innings that he had the wood over Guptill. When Assad Fudadin, replacing Babar Azam, fell for 13, Warriors had slipped to 39 for 3 in the seventh over.
Mohammed revives stalled Warriors
Jason Mohammed’s T20 strike-rate coming into this game was 98.66. On this surface, his side would’ve gladly taken that strike-rate, but for nothing less than 50 deliveries faced. Under pressure, though, he did just that, batting almost till the end to bring up his second T20 fifty to lead a revival of sorts. Particularly impressive was his intent of looking to force the pace in the face of some superb slow bowling, even if the execution was off, at times. His 63-run fourth-wicket stand with Gajanand Singh, who was all about deft touches and nurdles in his run-a-ball 27, lifted them past 100. The late surge never came, despite having wickets in hand. They managed just 29 off the last four overs.
McCullum survives Rashid storm
Knight Riders lost two early wickets. Warriors followed their opponent’s template by trying to twist them into knots with spin. It nearly worked. McCullum was all at sea against Rashid Khan, who put him through a tough examination. But his inclination to fight it out, even if it meant having to look scrappy and ungainly, helped his team.
Rashid drew McCullum forward by getting the ball to dip and inducing an edge that was put down by wicketkeeper Chadwick Walton. McCullum was on 21 at that point. Off his next delivery, the legspinner hit McCullum high on the back pad with a skidder that fizzed through. Then he delivered a superbly disguised googly which McCullum couldn’t connect. It prompted another lbw appeal, only for it to be turned down. Rashid was a picture of anguish, unable to believe he didn’t have one of the cleanest hitters of the cricket ball thrice in three deliveries. After that, McCullum slipped into accumulation mode, his unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 58 with Denesh Ramdin seeing Knight Riders home.