UPDATE: Pollard four-for, Simmons 84* give TKR their fourth CPL title

0
The Trinbago Knight Riders will take on the St Lucia Zouks in the final of the 2020 Caribbean Premier League (File Photo). – TWITTER (CPL)

Trinbago Knight Riders 157 for 2 (Simmons 84*, Bravo 58*, Chase 1-13) beat St Lucia Zouks 154 (Fletcher 39, Pollard 4-30, Ahmed 2-22) by eight wickets

The Trinbago Knight Riders became the first team to go through an entire CPL season undefeated as a momentum-shifting bowling performance from captain Kieron Pollard was followed by a thrilling century partnership between Lendl Simmons and Darren Bravo to take them past the St Lucia Zouks by eight wickets and to a fourth CPL title.

From 19 for 2 chasing 155, Simmons and Bravo steadily rebuilt the innings through the remainder of the first half, setting up 96 to get from the final ten overs. The pair then feasted on the wristspin pair of Javelle Glen and Zahir Khan to turn a competitive target into a cakewalk.

The Zouks paid the price for not batting out their innings, having been 89 for 2 after 11 overs and seemingly on course for a total in excess of 170. Pollard’s intervention in the 12th over sparked a collapse in which they were bowled out off the first ball of the final over for 154. The Knight Riders showed no mercy by clinching victory with 11 balls to spare as Simmons and Bravo rode a 138-run stand to the championship.

Fiery Fletcher

Andre Fletcher made up for the early loss of Rahkeem Cornwall in the second over by putting his stamp on the final with a scintillating knock. The shot of the innings came off Sikandar Raza’s offspin when Fletcher backed away slightly to carve him over the extra cover rope. Next ball Raza tried to follow him but Fletcher went with the spin on this occasion, cranking him over wide long-on for an even bigger six. Raza then overcorrected too short outside off, resulting in a cut to the backward point boundary for four more.

Fletcher followed his demolition of Raza with success against Ali Khan. The American quick had his number throughout the summer of 2018, whether at the Global T20 Canada or in the CPL, but the wicketkeeper from Grenada anticipated his lengths and changes of pace well. After flicking him through fine leg for his first boundary, he charged to a pair of full-length balls in the sixth over for two scorching drives through the covers, holding the pose afterwards for full effect.

Pollard roars back

The Knight Riders captain disrupted not just Fletcher but the rest of the Zouks middle order. He came into the match with just four wickets in 16 overs bowled sporadically across the tournament but doubled his wickets tally with an inspirational spell.

He mixed up his pace regularly, throwing Fletcher’s rhythm off to induce a lofted catch to Darren Bravo at long-off to start the 12th over. A slower ball accounted for Roston Chase holing to long-on off the last ball of the 14th. Mohammad Nabi fell in a similar fashion to Fawad Ahmed’s legspin three balls later before Daren Sammy prodded down the wrong line to Akeal Hosein’s left-arm spin in the 17th.

Pollard then rounded off his haul in the 19th over. Javelle mistimed a heave off a slower ball to produce a leading edge to point. The well-set Najibullah Zadran then pulled Pollard to Raza at deep square leg two balls later. Pollard claimed a run-out to end his final over as Kesrick Williams was well short of his ground after colliding with Scott Kuggeleijn trying to come back for a second run to long-off. A yorker from Ali Khan cleaned up Zahir Khan on the first ball of the 20th, bookending his wicket of Cornwall to start the match.

Sizzling Simmons

The opener was arguably at fault for the dismissal of his opening partner Tion Webster after failing to respond to a couple of clear singles at the non-striker’s end when Webster was trying to get off strike facing Chase’s offspin only for Webster to fall to Chase off a skied slog two balls later. Kuggeleijn then exploited that breakthrough with a gem of a back-of-a-length delivery in the following over to claim Tim Seifert and put the Zouks in control.

But Simmons kept his composure and after a slow start began to find his rhythm against Williams in the sixth over. A flat drive through mid-on was followed by a flick off his hips and then a cut through backward point for a trio of boundaries. A slog sweep off Nabi produced his first six, over midwicket. When Williams returned in the 12th over, Simmons feasted on him once again, pulling a six just off the fingertips of Nabi over the midwicket rope before cutting through point once more. He brought up his 50 off 31 balls and in the process, overtook Glenn Phillips to become the leading scorer of CPL 2020.

Momentum fully shifted in favour of the Knight Riders in the 14th over when Darren Bravo heaved two half-trackers from Glen over midwicket for two sixes. The tag team then took a flying elbow drop off the top rope against Zahir Khan in the 17th. Like Glen, Zahir dropped consistently too short and was clobbered for it. Simmons heaved him over the leg side for four and six to start the over before Bravo went over long-on and midwicket for two more sixes to bring up his 50 off 45 balls and the equation down to a run a ball.

Simmons treated Kuggeleijn with as much disdain as he had the spinners, tonking the first ball of the 18th over for six. Two more boundaries followed, leaving two to get entering the 19th. A bottom edge by Bravo off Williams eluded Fletcher to the rope for the winning runs, concluding one of the finest partnerships in CPL history. (ESPNCricinfo)