It was indeed the biggest party in sport as the Trinbago Knight Riders erupted in celebrations at the Brian Lara Stadium in Trinidad after winning their second Caribbean Premier League title. Kevon Cooper, reduced to tears of joy, smashed a scintillating 14-ball 29 and turned the game on its head, all in the space of an over to take his team over the line, in what turned out to be a fitting finale.
St Kitts and Nevis Patriots were left distraught, coming so close in the defence of a small target of 136, yet falling short by three wickets on Saturday (September 9), in a game where both teams had their chances in equal measure. Cooper showcased the amount of skill he possessed despite having had a tough few months, while Denesh Ramdin was his ever-composed self as the crowd rallied behind their side. From 90 for 7, Cooper and Ramdin ended proceedings on 136 for 7 with an over to spare.
It all came down to Ben Hilfenhaus’s penultimate over with the Knight Riders requiring 22 off the last two overs: 1, wd, wd, 2, 6nb, 4, 4, 1, 1 – read the scorecard at the end of the game. Hilfenhaus started off well, but lost rhythm and momentum as the Patriots spent almost five minutes between ball one and two. The game was lost between those minutes as Cooper got into his groove and knew the win was theirs for the taking.
Until the final, Evin Lewis and Chris Gayle had accounted for 54 per cent of the team’s runs. But when it came to the big game, a triple failure from the pair and Mohammad Hafeez in unison had the Patriots reduced to 37 for 3 in the eighth over after being asked to bat. Ronsford Beaton’s one-run opening over had Gayle attacking the first ball of the next from Javon Searles, which he ended up hitting straight to Yasir Shah at point. Searles accounted for another wicket, removing Hafeez.
With runs hard to come by, the Patriots were dealing in singles for most parts, which gave the Knight Riders a couple of run-out chances that they missed. The first boundary only came in the fifth over of the innings. Sunil Narine struck in his opening over, off the second ball, trapping Lewis leg before for 16. Dwayne Bravo mixed his bowlers well, not letting any of the batsmen settle, as the Patriots only managed to reach 45 for 3 at the halfway mark. The Knight Riders were in the driver’s seat.
A boundary in the 12th over off the bat of Devon Thomas came after 34 deliveries – a clear reflection of the Patriots’ worries; he then sent another hit that crossed the ropes, but fell soon after as Cooper picked up his second wicket. Brandon King hung around for 21 deliveries for 19, Thomas fell two overs later after a brief 9-ball stay for 17, but Jonathan Carter and Carlos Brathwaite’s association gave them some momentum.
Narine gave away nothing, finishing his four overs for just eight runs. Dwayne, however, struggled with a hamstring injury through the game which had him bowl just two overs. Having conceded only five in his first over, he ended up conceding 21 in the final over of the match that incapacitated as the Knight Riders leaked runs at the back end once again.
Brathwaite nearly dragged one back onto his stumps off Narine in the 14th over, when he was on 3, but since then, played a chanceless innings. The pair of Carter and Brathwaite, slowly, yet steadily, built a stand, dispatching the odd bad ball. Carter fell in the penultimate over with Patriots at 119 for 6. In hindsight, it was just what they needed as Mohammad Nabi came in to produce a cameo that took them to a score, that they ended up making a contest out of. Nabi smashed back-to-back sixes off Dwayne before belting a full toss for a boundary racing away to 18 off just 5, as the Patriots amassed 56 off last four overs.
Narine’s struggles with the bat continued, as he was caught and bowled by Sheldon Cottrell for 3. Cottrell levied a double blow as Dwayne was bowled for a golden duck two balls later, leaving the Knight Riders in a spot of bother. There was another hamstring issue on the field; Carter this time, who left the field to be treated by this physio.
Gayle ushered in Mohammad Hafeez with Hamza Tariq and Colin Munro in the middle looking for a stand desperately. Hafeez gave away 3, but Nabi from the other end, conceded 19, with three sixes, as the Knight Riders took control. Hafeez, however, returned to send Munro back, cramping him for room, and Darren Bravo in successive overs as Knight Riders were 64 for 4 at the halfway stage.
Denesh Ramdin held the key for Trinbago at that stage with enough experience of such situations. Tariq was undone by a screamer from King, who took a diving one-hander, while Dan Christian was run out following an excellent throw from Carter as the Knight Riders seemed to be slipping, and fast at 90 for 7. Searles holed out, but Cooper and Ramdin, both capable of pulling off a win, kept their side in the chase with 33 required from the last three.
To give credit where it’s due, in a small chase, full points to the Patriots to have made a contest out of this low-scorer. What seemed like it would be a walk in the park for the Knight Riders, ended up being a nail-biter thanks to the 45 for 5 collapse in the middle period – silencing the scores of fans that turned up – during which scoring reduced significantly.
While Cooper did the scoring, Ramdin’s support at the other end was invaluable for someone who was low on confidence. It was a game that was in balance until that 19th over. There on, it was all Knight Riders.
St Kitts & Nevis Patriots 135/6 in 20 overs (Carlos Brathwaite 30*; Kevon Cooper 2-12) lost to
Trinbago Knight Riders 136/7 in 19 overs (Colin Munro 29, Kevon Cooper 29*; Mohammad Hafeez 2-19) by three wickets.