Kieron Pollard delivered a meteoric performance with the bat by blasting 72 runs off 28 balls to steer the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) to an astonishing two-wicket win over reigning Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) T20 champions Barbados Tridents when match 17 bowled off at the Queen’s Park Oval, St Clair on Saturday.
Without the likes of seasoned campaigners Dwayne Bravo, Sunil Narine and Ali Khan in the the TKR lineup, Pollard entered his team’s chase of 149, struggling at 62 for five with just 44 balls remaining.
However, the burly big-hitter delivered a captain’s display smashing nine sixes and two fours which led TKR needing just eight runs off the final four balls.
Incoming batsman Jayden Seales immediately got off the mark but it was Khary Pierre (10 not out) who ensured Pollard’s heroics did not go in vain as he sliced through point to score a Hero maximum then secure the winning run off the penultimate ball to maintain TKR’s flawless start to their campaign.
Batting first, Barbados Tridents rallied to 148 for seven steered by opening batsman Johnson Charles (47) and Kyle Mayers (42).
Akeal Hosein’s (2/31) tournament introduction to the TKR bowling attack paid early dividends as he scalped Shai Hope (four) in his second over. Seales and Hosein continued to stifle the Trident’s early on but Charles removed the latter from his debut spell by cracking two fours, one toward deep mid-wicket and the other through cover and point.
Pollard’s entry with the ball slowed Bajan franchise’s progress. Charles (47) then swept Fawad Ahmed for a back-to-back four and six before he was out caught by Lendl Simmons at slips. Kyle Mayers played smartly alongside his captain Jason Holder, who soon perished for just three runs (95/3).
With just five overs to go, Pollard introduced Zimbabwean spinner Sikandar Raza who swiftly removed Mayers and Corey Anderson (six) before incoming batsman Ashley Nurse smashed consecutive fours in the same over.
Raza made up for a previous blunder in the field by taking a spectacular diving catch to send Rashid Khan (12) packing while Nurse smacked Seales for a four and a six to keep the score climbing.
Two balls later, Seales halted Nurse’s cameo as Seifert lapped up a smart catch which concluded the Tridents’ innings of 148/7.
In response, TKR opening batsman Tion Webster played Mitchell Santner through extra-cover and mid-off four in the first over. But, the three-time champions were left reeling at 6/2 after the second as Holder snagged a double-wicket maiden by dismissing Webster (five) and a scoreless Colin Munro.
Opener Simmons and Darren Bravo attempted to stabalise the innings with the former lofting Nurse for consecutive sixes. Bravo (six) did not last, however, as he was trapped leg-before by Khan.
Although the run rate increased, Simmons played patiently while Seifert edged to wicketkeeper Hope for just four runs. After 27 balls without a boundary, TKR’s Hosein finally found the ropes slashing square of the wicket off Holder. Simmons then hit Khan for a rare six over deep mid-wicket but TKR sunk further when Hosein departed (62/5) courtesy Hayden Walsh.
Needing a hefty 86 runs from 42 balls, Pollard entered the fray and single-handedly hauled TKR to victory with a flurry of blistering shots. His first ball against Walsh was plastered for six followed by another off Khan in the very next over.
After Santner claimed Simmons’ (32 runs from 29 balls) wicket, TKR earned just nine runs from the following 11 balls. Intent on maintaining his squad’s unbeaten run of form, Pollard hit Walsh for 24 runs in his final over and returned hope to the TKR camp after a dismal start.
Raymond Reifer would bag the scalp of Raza (three) but his exit seemed to have enraged the mighty Pollard as he smoked the Bajan pacer for consecutive fours and backed them up with two huge sixes against the Tridents’ skipper Holder.
Needing 15 runs off the final over, the behemoth batsman hammered wide over long on before getting run out by Hope with just eight runs need from the final four balls remaining.
Pierre hit over deep point for a Hero maximum and then sliced through point to haul TKR to a nail-biting victory (149/8) courtesy the Pollard’s batting theatrics.
Topping the bowling for the 2019 winners was Holder (2/27) while Khan (1/21), Reifer (1/30) and Walsh (1/44) bagged one apiece.
Saturday’s victory for TKR sees them remain atop the 2020 CPL standings on 12 points having beaten all the teams thus far and Barbados Tridents, twice. TKR return to competition on Tuesday against third placed Jamaica Tallawahs (six points) while second ranked St Lucia Zouks (eight points) face an embattled Tridents on Sunday from 10am.
Barbados Tridents and Guyana Amazon Warriors remain in fourth and fifth position respectively on four points each while St Kitts and Nevis Patriots seemed stuck to the bottom of the ladder on two points.
TRINBAGO KNIGHT RIDERS 149/8 - Kieron Pollard 72, Lendl Simmons 32; Jason Holder 2/27 defeated BARBADOS TRIDENTS 148/7 - Johnson Charles 47, Kyle Mayers 42; Sikandar Raza 2/11, Jayden Seales 2/21, Akeal Hosein 2/30