Brendon McCullum returned to form with a well-paced 41-ball 49 to end St Lucia Zouks’ merry run in Caribbean Premier league 2016 and eliminate them from the competition. His knock helped Trinbago Knight Riders cruise to a comfortable five-wicket win on Thursday (August 4) in the Eliminator at Warner Park in St Kitts.
Dwayne Bravo, Knight Riders’ captain, won the toss and elected to field. The move seemed to have backfired early on as the Zouks’ openers – Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher went on a rampage.
Zouks lost three wickets in quick succession – Charles’s slog ended up in the hands of Dwayne Bravo, Watson failed to red the slower one and skied the ball to the Knight Riders captain, and poor communication by Fletcher led to Michael Hussey getting run-out. In a space of eight balls, Zouks were reduced from 62 for no loss to 67 for 3.
Fletcher and Miller steadied the ship. However, just when singles and twos were coming easily, Fletcher couldn’t resist the temptation of resuming his slog-play. He got lucky on a couple of occasions as the ball went to vacant areas. Just when the partnership was looking to take flight, Miller’s flat swipe ended in the hands of Akmal at long on.
Sammy unleashed his full array of slogs and also smacked Bravo for consecutive sixes before holing out to McCullum at long off, in his third attempt. Ronsford Beaton bowled well in the death, but Shane Shillingford’s two lusty hits helped Zouks post 164 in their 20 overs.
The chase was always going to be tricky, to couple with the concerns of McCullum’s batting form. Knight Riders took account of it, and instead chose to open the innings with Hashim Amla and Umar Akmal. The start was brisk with Amla driving Delorn Johnson’s first two deliveries for boundaries. Nonetheless, he ended up poking at a full delivery outside off-stump to the wicketkeeper and made his way back to the pavilion in the first over.
The early wicket didn’t deter Knight Riders’ charge. Colin Munro dispatched Jerome Taylor for a straight boundary and a six over midwicket in the second over. Watson, who was introduced in the following over, too, was meted out a harsh treatment. Akmal, used artistry touches instead of brute force, to send the ball to the boundary fence thrice in that over.
The rain of sixes and fours continued throughout the powerplay, with no exception. While Shillingford had nothing better, Johnson was smacked for 10 runs, before Akmal ended up playing a widish delivery into the hands of the wicketkeeper. Munro, too, followed his partner back to the pavilion in the next over, as he lofted an away going delivery over mid off, but Sammy managed to jog back and take an easy catch.
McCullum, who was joined by Dinesh Ramdin, settled in with a couple of boundaries off Sammy. The duo, thereafter, sedated their appraoch and relied on singles. With the required run rate under control, there was little to worry for them.
While the boundaries were kept in check, Zouks couldn’t do much to stop the easy singles on offer. With each passing over, the control on the match only kept getting stronger for the defending champions. The Zouks bowlers could do little to make the batsmen uncomfortable. They weren’t even creating chances.
Ramdin departed after an 18-ball 21. However, by then, the match was already in the grip for Knight Riders. The only hope Zouks had was that their opposition weren’t batting too deep. Nonetheless, as the day turned out to be, even Sunil Narine swatted two sixes off Johnson to finish with an unbeaten 14-ball 22 and take his side to a comfortable win with nine balls to spare.
With this win, Knight Riders will face Jamaica Tallawahs in Qualifier 2.
Brief Scores: St Lucia Zouks 164/8 in 20 overs (Andre Fletcher 41, Darren Sammy 40; Ronsford Beaton 3-23, Kevon Cooper 2-26) lost to Trinbago Knight Riders 165/5 in 18.3 overs (Brendon McCullum 49*, Umar Akmal 30; Jerome Taylor 2-31, Delorn Johnson 2-44) by five wickets.
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