Skipper Kieron Pollard turned in a wonderful all-round performance on Saturday to give his team, the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR), their ninth successive win at the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) tournament at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy (BLCA) in Tarouba, San Fernando.
SCORES: Trinbago Knight Riders 175/5 (20) versus St Lucia Zouks 152/7 - TKR won by 23 runs.
Pollard smacked a 21-ball 42 as the TKR tallied 175/5, thanks also to 50 from Darren Bravo. With the Zouks willing to give them a tussle, he then took the ball to capture three wickets and together with the experienced Dwayne Bravo with 2/26, the Zouks fell short at 152/7.
Local boy Mark Deyal and Andre Fletcher had given the TKR a slight scare as they batted with inhibitions in getting quick runs. However, Pollard would remove both men and the Zouks could not find the power lower down to get over the line.
Deyal made 40 off 33 balls with five fours, while the right-handed Fletcher spanked 42 off 27 balls with a four and three Hero Maximums (sixes).
In the end, the mountain to climb was as tall as the Piton, and tried as he did, skipper Daren Sammy could get only 14 runs and his team denied an upset.
Earlier, Zouks won the toss and decided to field, a decision that was shocking with this being the first match of the day and the pitch offering its best conditions for strokeplay. What has been seen at the BLCA is that the batting team, having first use of the strip on mornings, enjoy it the best.
This week, there have been morning scores of 46/0 (5.4), 174/4 (20), and 184/4 (20). Moving along the day, the pitch gets slower and lower and this brings the spinners into play and batsmen are like fodder.
It was no different yesterday as the TKR was quick out the blocks and maintained a healthy run-rate throughout.
The ball came nicely off the bat and only when bowlers took pace off the ball they were spared. They had to be crafty because the pitch helped the batters.
No better example came than the Lendl Simmons' dismissal off Zouks Scott Kuggeleijn. His length ball at pace when flying over long-on for six. After that he rolled his fingers across the ball and Simmons was thrown off edging to wicketkeeper Andre Fletcher for eight.
TKR's Tim Siefert being promoted in the order because of finger injury to Colin Munro enjoyed the exchanges thumping a six in his 33 off 30 balls as he enjoyed the hardness of the ball as well.
Bravo looked pretty as he was able to bring out all his shots much to the delight of his teammates. In the end, he counted 50 off 42 balls with three sixes and three fours.
Pollard was brutal and struck the ball cleanly, he smashed three sixes and three fours off his 21 balls which fetched him 42 runs. His association with Darren Bravo realised 67 runs from 6.1 overs.
Speaking after the win, Pollard said: "I think they had us under pressure, some of our guys stood up. We batted in two halves, and overall a good match for us. Hopefully, I can continue to lead and lead well.
"You need the support of everyone. It was one of the better wickets in the tournament, 23-run margin, but it was a lot closer I thought. We want to play the ball and not play the wicket."
Trinbago Knight Riders 175/5(20) (Darren Bravo 50, Kieron Pollard 42, Tim Seifert 33, Tion Webster 20) vs St Lucia Zouks 152/7 (20) (Andre Fletcher 42, Mark Deyal 40, Kieron Pollard 3/35, Dwayne Bravo 2/26) - TKR won by 23 runs.
Man of the match: Kieron Pollard.