Defending champions Trinbago Knight Riders slumped to a defeat at the hands of St Lucia Zouks in the opener of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2016. Shane Watson starred with the ball while his compatriot Michael Hussey took the team over the finishing line alongside David Miller.
Batting first, Trinbago Knight Riders didn’t get off to a good start as they lost Kiwi hard-hitting batsman Brendon McCullum for 12. McCullum started his innings in typically aggressive fashion but Derone Davis had him in the second over. Fellow Kiwi Colin Munro had a good chance to impress, but fell for only 11. Despite getting a positive start, Hashim Amla failed to convert it into big and was snared up by Canadian Nitish Kumar.
Trinbago’s desperate calls of a solid partnership were answered by Umar Akmal and Darren Bravo as Amla’s wicket left they reeling at 58 for 3 at the end of nine overs. Bravo and Akmal stitched a vital 64-run partnership for the fourth wicket. The dynamic southpaw’s unbeaten 63—which came off just 44 balls—provided the impetus for Knight Riders’ innings. When Akmal departed for a gritty 30, Bravo stepped up and thumped four big sixes to help his team to 6-162.
Watson was the pick of the bowlers for the Zouks as he claimed three important wickets from his four-over spell. His important scalps included Munro, Akmal and Kevon Cooper in the final over. Proteas express pacer Morne Morkel leaked a lot of runs, finishing his four overs with 1-41.
Facing a complex run-chase, St Lucia opener Johnson Charles made early inroads, setting the tone for the innings that followed. Watson too complimented Charles at the top, but he was captured for a run-ball 16 by Trinbago skipper Dwayne Bravo.
After Watson departed, Charles took the centrestage and brought his half-century in double quick time. The West Indian did his job of laying the platform for the middle-order before departing for 58.
Sunil Narine once again gave the hosts an important breakthrough by sending dangerous Charles packing. McCullum pulled a blinder juggling catch at slip, but both he and were forced to wait as the umpires checked for a front foot no ball. It was a close call, and went in favour of the hosts. Andre Fletcher followed his teammate soon with spin magician Narine providing another important wicket, throwing the game into 50-50.
Mike Hussey and David Miller came to the crease with the run chase hanging in the balance. The wicket of West Indians Charles and Fletcher had brought Trinbago right back in the game and smart batting was needed from the duo. While Miller played the aggressor, Hussey chipped in with singles and doubles before he was bowled for a run-a-ball 16 in the penultimate over by Bravo.
Hussey’s wicket gave no joy to Bravo and co. as the damage was already done in the 17th over. When the match was slipping away from the visitors, South Africa’s Miller ransacked Ronsford Beaton two fours and huge six to settle the nerves and leave his team needing 23 runs from the last three overs.
Miller’s crucial 33 off 20 turned the tide completely in the visitors’ favour and ultimately saw them home with five balls to spare.
SRK’s owned Knight Riders will be back in action on Friday, July 1 as they host Barbados Tridents, while Darren Sammy’s St Lucia Zouks will look to build momentum, when they play St Kitts and Nevis on Sunday, July 3.