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CPL 2019: Trinbago Knight Riders stay perfect after dismissing St. Lucia Zouks

By Sreshth Shah

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Lendl Simmons smashes one onto the leg-side in CPL T20 action

(ESPNcricinfo) — Trinbago Knight Riders 168 for 3 (Simmons 63, Ramdin 50*, Pollard 26*) beat St Lucia Zouks 167 for 5 (Campbell 43, Cornwall 33, Neesham 2-33) by seven wickets

Trinbago Knight Riders cruised to their third straight win in CPL 2019, as their experienced quartet of Lendl Simmons, Denesh Ramdin, Sunil Narine and captain Kieron Pollard set up a comfortable seven-wicket win over St Lucia Zouks on Sunday.

Riding on the support of a packed home stadium, Knight Riders overcame an above-par first-innings total of 167 to finish the first week of the season at the top of the points table.

In the first innings, Narine’s four-over spell of only 23 runs ensured Zouks didn’t post a higher total, after which Simmons and Ramdin struck smart half-centuries to always keep Knight Riders within touching distance of the required run-rate. And when Simmons fell for his 39-ball 63, Pollard brought up the rear with an unbeaten 26 to bring victory in the 18th over.

For Daren Sammy’s Zouks, it’s now two losses in a row. With their next match four days away, Zouks could find themselves in bottom place before they take on Jamaica Tallawahs on September 13.

Simmons’ super show
Chasing 168, Knight Riders had a blazing start on the back of a 29-run first-wicket stand between Narine and Simmons inside three overs. But once Narine fell, Sammy introduced three spinners in a bid to negate Simmons’ threat. There were murmurs that Simmons struggles against spin, but he used his feet well against offspinner Rahkeem Cornwall and legspinner Fawad Ahmed to keep moving at a brisk pace. Fawad, who was CPL 2018’s highest wicket-taker, was brave to flight the ball, but Simmons stayed committed to his shot making, and deposited two sixes over long-on off the bowler. For Fawad, it was a bitter reunion with his former team. He conceded more than 13 per over in his three-over spell.

Simmons’ shots went in all directions. He swept them for six, found tiny gaps behind point off left-arm spinner Kavern Hodge for four and even drilled boundaries through cover. One particular slap through the off-side brought up his 44th T20 fifty in the ninth over. Simmons finally fell in the 12th over to Hodge, stepping out to a very wide delivery, stumped by the fast hands of Andre Fletcher. By then, though, the required run-rate was under 7.50.

Ramdin, Pollard show their experience
The No. 4 Ramdin enjoyed much of Simmons’ hitting from the other end. He had entered the Knight Riders chase in the fifth over with the team in a spot of bother at 34 for 2. But he kept the scoreboard moving, settling in and letting Simmons enjoy the strike.

Ramdin’s first release shot came in the 11th over when he drove Fawad inside-out through the covers. He followed it up with a slog sweep next ball for six, and that set the momentum for his innings even after Simmons’ dismissal next over. The No. 5 Pollard took over Ramdin’s role once he came in, and the latter then turned aggressor. He carved Thisara Perera over point in the 15th over to bring the equation down to six per over, and then struck a hat-trick of fours off Kesrick Williams in the 17th to bring the target down to single digits. That broke Zouks’ back, and Knight Riders crossed the line five balls later.

Zouks fail to maximise with the bat
Pinch-hitting opener Cornwall had bruised Knight Riders early on with a 12-ball 33, which helped Zouks reach 51 after six overs. But they could’ve had more if his opening partner Andre Fletcher didn’t struggle as much. Against Narine, Fletcher failed to rotate the strike and got bogged down in the Powerplay. Fletcher’s laboured innings of 26 off 32 balls ended in the tenth over when holed out to long on.

John Campbell – playing his first CPL game – and No. 4 Najibullah Zadran then looked to up the scoring-rate but it wasn’t easy against the offcutters that James Neesham and Pollard were bowling. And while Zadran did mesmerise with a six and two fours off Narine in the 15th over, he made just 26. Campbell went on at a run-a-ball, and when he eventually fell in the 20th over, his 42-ball stay had earned only 43 runs. That Zouks posted 167 at the end was due to some big hitting from Sammy off the young Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Hasnain at the back end of the first innings.

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