Skipper Kieron Pollard and Lendl Simmons powered Trinbago Knight Riders to an emphatic eight-wicket victory over St Lucia Zouks in the final of the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2020 at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy Ground in Port of Spain on September 10.
Pollard’s four-wicket haul sent St Lucia Zouks tumbling to 154 all out and the record unbroken 138-run third wicket partnership off just 88 balls between Simmons and Darren Bravo took Trinbago Knight Riders home with consummate ease. The title victory was achieved with conviction as Bravo and Simmons put together the highest-ever stand of the CPL much to the delight of their owners and supporters.
St Lucia Zouks lost the plot after having got off to a breezy start in the powerplay overs. Rakheem Cornwall swept Akeal Hosein for four but was lucky to edge over DJ Bravo at slip. Kieron Pollard gave the second over to Ali Khan, who responded by flattening Cornwall’s middle stump. Andre Fletcher clipped fine for four, the Zouks thus closing the second over at 16 for one.
Mark Deyal slog swept Hosein for two fours while Fletcher was aggressive against Sikandar Raza lofting him over cover and long-on for sixes then cutting for four. Khary Pierre went for just five but Fletcher twice smoked Ali through cover for four and the Zouks motored to 60 for one off the powerplay. \
Deyal lofted Pierre over cover for four and launched Pollard for six, but struggled to combat Fawad Ahmed’s googly and edged to DJ Bravo at slip. Hosein returned with a tight over, and at halfway the Knight Riders had slowed the Zouks to 79 for two.
Roston Chase clipped through midwicket for four early in Fawad’s second over, which went for 10, but Fletcher’s assault ended as he aimed Pollard down the ground but found only Darren Bravo at long-off. Najibullah Zadran slashed his first ball for four, and the over went for seven to leave the Zouks in need of a partnership at 79 for three off 12 overs.
While Chase slog-swept the last ball of Pierre’s over for a six, he and Mohammad Nabi fell within four balls, the former chipping a Pollard cutter to long-on and the latter clubbing Fawad to long-off. Zouks captain Daren Sammy smashed his second ball for a six and after 15 overs the Zouks were 123 for five.
Despite a Najibullah four, Ali’s return over went for just six, and Sammy should have fallen to Hosein but Ali badly misjudged the catch. Najibullah flicked Hosein for a delightful Hero Maximum over cover, but Hosein recovered to dismiss Sammy leg before. After 17 overs, the Zouks were 138 for six..
DJ Bravo was unable to bowl and so Pollard had to step up at the death and did so admirably, picking up two wickets with his off-cutter. First Javelle Glenn looped to backward point and then Najibullah failed to clear Raza at deep backward square off another cutter. Kesrick Williams was run out, Ali Khan bowled Zahir Khan with a perfect yorker, and the Knight Riders had bowled the Zouks out for a decent rather than dominant total.
Simmons pulled Scott Kuggeleijn for four first ball of the chase, becoming Hero CPL’s all-time leading run-scorer in doing so.
Webster swept Nabi for four but then top-edged off Chase, Williams taking a fine catch. After three overs, the Knight Riders were 14 for one.
Tim Seifert got off the mark with a four off Kuggeleijn, but fell edging behind next ball. Darren Bravo too got off the mark with a boundary, a glorious lofted six over long-on off Chase, and Simmons took boundaries straight, fine down the leg side and backward of point off Williams’ first over to close the Powerplay with the Knight Riders 40 for two.
Chase and Nabi put the pressure on, going for just five between them, and Simmons and Bravo both struggled against Zahir. When Simmons did take on the big shot though he nailed it over the fence, and at halfway the Knight Riders were 59 for two and needed 96 more to win.
Sammy brought himself on and bowled five good deliveries, but Bravo smashed the sixth for a six, and Simmons pulled Williams for a six then cut him for four, becoming Hero CPL 2020’s leading run-scorer and bringing up his 50 off just 31 balls.
Bravo though continued to struggle against Chase, who closed out a superb spell.
After 13 overs, Bravo was just 23 off 32 balls, and the Knight Riders needed almost 10 an over, but he eased both of those equations somewhat with two Hero Maximums off Glenn. Williams’s third over went for nine thanks to two wides and a loose short ball, and the Knight Riders entered the last five overs needing 45 with eight wickets still in hand.
Kuggeleijn managed to go for just four off the 16th despite starting with a wide, but Simmons targeted Zahir, taking him for four off the first and six off the second. Bravo added two big sixes, the second bringing up his 50 off 45 balls. Suddenly, the Knight Riders needed just 18.
Simmons was not going to hang around now, walloping Kuggeleijn for a six over midwicket then clubbing him over cover and slicing him through third man for two fours. The winning runs came off an inside edge but there was now no denying the Knight Riders’ domination of Hero CPL 2020.