PRODUCTIVE partnerships and a tidy bowling display kept the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) unbeaten at this year’s Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) T20 tournament as they delivered another convincing victory, this time by 23 runs, against the St Lucia Zouks, on Saturday.

Partnered with an impressive half-century from Darren Bravo, TKR skipper and eventual Man of the Match Kieron Pollard (42 runs off 21 balls) delivered another mesmerising display with the bat and led the TT franchise to a challenging 175 for five.

The burly all-rounder (3/35) also played an integral role with ball and restricted St Lucia Zouks to 152 for seven which propelled TKR to its ninth win in as many games.

Sent in to bat, TKR opening batsmen Lendl Simmons (eight) and Tion Webster (20) had a slow start scoring just 12 runs off the first three overs before the former edged to wicketkeeper Andre Fletcher.

Seifert’s entry increased the pace as he launched Mohammad Nabi for a Hero maximum over wide long-off before smacking another over long on courtesy Kesrick Williams’ pace. Webster smartly rotated the strike and provided Seifert with the opportunity to punish Roston Chase for consecutive fours.

The Bajan then smoked a huge six off Nabi’s spin but had his 43-run partnership with Seifert shut down as the Afghan spinner shattered his stumps three balls later (55/2).

The younger Bravo took some time to get going as spinners Khan and Mark Deyal slowed TKR’s batting progress. Bravo, however, would smash Khan for a huge six over the commentary box window before welcoming new bowler and Zouks skipper Darren Sammy with a four towards deep square leg off his first delivery.

Bravo and Seifert still managed to construct a 38-run partnership before the New Zealander was caught out by Najibullah Zadran. With the score at 93/3 and seven overs remaining, the in-form Pollard made his way to the pitch.

Bravo continued stroking the ball around the ground while Pollard played patiently. When Sammy returned to the bowling attack, “Polly” edged toward third man for four and then lofted handsomely over extra cover for his first maximum of the day.

The 33-year-old kept the fieldsmen busy as he cracked Scott Kuggeleijn for four over short third man and then hit high over extra cover for another mighty six off Williams. Two balls later, Bravo brought up the pair’s 50-run partnership with another six off the Vincentian pacer.

After slapping Kuggeleijn through the leg side for a boundary and then muscling over deep mid-wicket for this third maximum, Pollard (42) lost control of his bat trying to flick to the on-side and was caught behind by Fletcher.

Pollard’s departure (160/4) concluded the pair’s 67-run stance at the crease but also made way for Dwayne Bravo, who started positively with a six off Kuggeleijn’s final delivery.

Only four more runs would come from the final over as Bravo (DM) perished off the final ball and set up a distant 176-run target for the St Lucia Zouks.

Kuggeleijn (2/35) emerged pick of the bowlers while Sammy (1/19), Zahir Khan (1/24) and Williams (1/50) bagged one wicket each.

In reply, the TKR skipper opted for his usual spin start via Akeal Hosein and Sikandar Raza. With just nine runs coming off the first four overs against opening batsmen Kimani Melius and Mark Deyal, the batting pair welcomed Khary Pierre to the bowling attack with a boundary each.

Bravo’s pace introduction paid swift dividends as he had Melius (12) out caught behind by Seifert. Fletcher entered and brought life to the Zouks’ innings by whacking Fawad Ahmed for a Hero maximum.

Fletcher and Deyal then accelerated the run rate by securing 13 runs off Jayden Seales’ first over. The Grenadian Fletcher also gave Pollard a taste of his own medicine by blasting him for six over deep mid-wicket off his first delivery.

Undeterred, Pollard bagged the scalp of Deyal (40) one ball later, as Seales latched on to a running catch and almost collided with fellow fieldsman Bravo (DM). Fletcher (42) pestered the TKR captain with another shot over the boundary but Pollard would have the last laugh, as Webster had Fletcher out caught with a good running catch (103/3).

Similarly, Nabi struck Pollard high and handsomely down the ground for six but was sent packing soon after, out caught by Bravo (DJ). Bravo also removed Zadran (12) by crashing his stumps before Sammy (14) also departed caught by the younger Bravo off Seales in the final over.

Kuggeleijn perished with just one ball to go as the Zouks fell short of their target by 23 runs heading into the playoffs.

For his heroics with the ball, Pollard (3/35) finished with the best figures while Seales (2/21) and Bravo (2/26) proved economical.

TRINBAGO KNIGHT RIDERS 175/5 – (Darren Bravo 50, Kieron Pollard 42, Tim Seifert 33, Tion Webster 20; Scott Kuggeleijn 2/35, Darren Sammy 1/19) defeated ST LUCIA ZOUKS 152/7 – (Andre Fletcher 42, Mark Deyal 40, Mohammad Nabi 17, Darren Sammy 14; Kieron Pollard 3/35, Jayden Seales 2/21, Dwayne Bravo 2/26) by 23 runs

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