A mature, sensible knock from the experienced Brendon McCullum, who scored 65 off 45 balls, guided Trinbago Knight Riders to a seven-wicket win over Guyana Amazon Warriors in match 17 of the Caribbean Premier Leauge (CPL).
This was after Knight Riders’ twirlers had displayed all of their skills to restrict the target to a very gettable 131. Their victory means Knight Riders have become the first team to qualify from the group stages for the Playoffs which will take place in Trindad from 5th to 9th September.
McCullum’s innings set the bedrock for Knight Riders’ pursuit and allowed his side’s other batsmen the freedom to play as they wished. Darren Bravo and Colin Munro took the opportunity to attack, striking 11 off 8 and 27 off 19 respectively, while Denesh Ramdin enjoyed some time in the middle, finishing on 20 off 19.
The role of platform-building is not one McCullum often plays, with him more often choosing to attack from ball one, but it’s a job he performed with aplomb, as he put the result beyond doubt before exploding, taking 20 runs off a Roshon Primus over and bringing the game to an early finish.
McCullum didn’t have everything his own way, and was troubled in particular by 18-year-old Afghan Rashid Khan, who finished with exceptional figures of three overs for 11 runs. McCullum survived two consecutive LBW appeals from the leg-spinner, but made sure he capitalised on his reprieves, striking four fours and four sixes, before Ramdin brought an end to proceedings with another six with Knight Riders victors by seven wickets and with 4.1 overs remaining.
Earlier, after Dwayne Bravo won the toss and chose to bowl, Knight Riders' spinners played a key part in restricting Amazon Warriors to a chaseable total. Their trio of slow bowlers – Sunil Narine, Nikita Miller, and Khary Pierre – conceded just 60 off their combined 12 overs, with Narine’s 1-11 off 4 overs the standout. Meanwhile the seamers – Robert Frylinck, Ronsford Beaton, and Dwayne Bravo – went for 68 runs off their eight overs. Captain Bravo in particular came in for some punishment, going for 35 off his three overs.
The main resistance came from Jason Mohammed, who bided his time before adding some late acceleration. In the face of consistent bowling and the loss of batting partners, he reached 50 at exactly a run a ball, before striking two fours and a six in his next eight balls, the last of which, also the last of the innings, bowled him for 66.
He was assisted by Gajanand Singh, who joined Mohammed for a 63-run partnership, of which his share was a run-a-ball 27. At the half-way stage their side’s 130-5 appeared competitive, with the pitch seemingly not conducive to quick scoring, but that reckoned without the class of McCullum.
The result sends Trinbago Knight Riders through to the knockouts, and leaves Guyana Amazon Warriors facing an uphill struggle to qualify.
Guyana Amazon Warriors are next in action tomorrow, when they take on Barbados Tridents at home. Trinbago Knight Riders next play on Wednesday, away at St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots.