Photo: Lendl Simmons produced his best batting innings of the season to guide the perfect Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) to their fourth Hero CPL title (Getty Images)
Lendl Simmons produced his best batting display, scoring 84 not out, to guide the perfect Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) to their fourth Hero CPL title, as they overcame first time finalists the St. Lucia Zouks to win by 8 runs, at the Brian Lara Cricket Stadium on Thursday,
Set 155 runs to win by the Zouks after holding them to 154 all out, the TKR began nervously losing two wickets for 19 runs in the 4th over before Simmons and Darren Bravo (58 not out) settled things for the hosts.
The pair then proceeded to bat their opponents out the contest to prove that they were, in fact, the best team in the tournament.
TKR began the game as heavy favourites but would have been reminded of the fact that Guayana Amazon Warriors went unbeaten all the way to the 2019 final before losing to the Barbados Tridents.
The final had a unique symmetry to it as the Zouks ‘won’ the first ten overs while both batting and fielding, but the TKR were able to dominate the second ten overs of each inning.
The Zouks didn’t get off to a particularly good start as Rahkeem Cornwall had his middle stump knocked out of the ground by Ali Khan with the second ball of the second over at 10-1.
The pair of Andre Fletcher and Mark Deyal then put the Zouks in charge of the game with a 67 runs partnership.
Fletcher, who has been the Zouks best batsman this season, freed his arms early, slapping Raza with disdain for back to back sixes as they took 18 runs from the 4th over.
Mark Deyal also got into the action when he created room for himself to lift a ball over extra cover in the 7th over, as the two built the innings for the Darren Sammy led team.
Deyal was dropped by Pierre in the 9th over, but it didn’t cost the TKR anything as they got his wicket off the very net delivery. Dwayne Bravo took a catch at first slip after the ball ricocheted off the gloves of wicketkeeper Tim Seifert at 77-2. Deyal went for 29 off the bowling of Fawad Ahmed.
The Zouks were 79-2 at the end of 10 overs and would have been targeting at least 170 runs at the end of their innings.
But TKR captain Kieron Pollard, brought himself on and had an immediate impact on the game when he got the wicket of Fletcher with his first delivery, caught by Darren Bravo in the deep at 89-3.
The Zouks then lost two wickets in two balls as run started to become difficult to come by.
Rolston Chase had pushed the scoring along for the Zouks until he was caught out by a slower ball from Pollard and held out to Webster on the boundary at 117-4 at the end of the 14th over.
Mohammad Nabi went caught Darren Bravo bowled Fawad Ahmed for 2 without an addition to the score in the 15th over at 117-5.
The Zouks captain Darren Sammy came to the wicket but he didn’t last very long. In the 17th over Ali Khan missed an opportunity to catch Sammy who skied a catch to midwicket, but he lost the ball in the sun off the bowling of Hosein, however the bowler would have the last laugh as he trapped Sammy lbw for 8, three balls later at 137-6.
The Zouks then suffered a lower order collapse as they lost their last four wickets for six runs from six delivering as their innings fell away badly. They began the 19th over at 148 for 6 before Pollard’s stifling bowling did the trick.
Javelle Glen was caught by Simmons for 9 as his top edge sweep spiraled into the air for an easy take at 148-7.
Raza then picked out by Zadran at deep backward square as Pollard picked up his second wicket of the over 149-8.
Pollard then ran out Keswick Williams off the final ball of the over after Williams had been given a life, the previous delivery. The score at that point was 154-9.
Ali Khan bowled his name sake Zahir Khan for 0 with the first ball of the final over to wrap up the Zouks innings at 154 all out.
Tion Webster was the first wicket to fall when the TKR began their run chase. He made a big swipe at a Roston Chase delivery and Williams ran back from short midwicket to took a superb catch to dismiss the opener at 13-1.
TKR were then rocked back when Seifert went caught behind by Fletcher off a faint outside edge off the bowing of Scott Kuggeleijn at 19-2
Zouks continued to strangle the TRK batsmen during the first five overs as they were only able to muster 26-2.
Chase who bowled quite well for the Zouks was superb as the usually free scoring TKR managed only 50-2 from the first 9 overs.
But having steadied things for their team and with wickets in hand, Simmons and Bravo then went on the attack scoring 16 runs from the 12th over which was bowled by Williams.
The TKR brought up 100 runs in the 14th over with Bravo hitting Glenn for 2 big sixes in the over.
The game was effectively over by the 17th over when Simmons and Bravo plundered 23 from Zahir Khan’s bowling. Simmons scored a four and a six in consecutively deliveries then Bravo hit two sixes to bring up his half century in the process.
At 137-2, the TKR needed 18 runs from 18 deliveries to claim their 4 CPL title and they wasted no time in clearing the deficit.
Sixteen runs came off the 18th over as Simmons and Bravo decided to stand and deliver, smashing sixes and fours to all parts of the boundary.
The winning runs came by way of a boundary from the bat of Bravo from the first ball of the 18th over to leave Pollard and his boys as not only champions, but the best team to ever play in the Hero CPL.