The Trinbago Knight Riders provided the win to match the party for their third success in this season's Hero Caribbean Premier League early this morning.
A full, noisy, jamming house of red that was the Queen's Park Oval saw the TKR see off the Guyana Amazon Warriors by seven wickets for their third win in four matches, that put in the past their four-wicket defeat on Wednesday against the Jamaica Tallawahs.
Colin Munro got his second unbeaten half-century of the season, a Man-of-the-Match 70 not out off 47 balls (five fours, five sixes) to make victory certain and ensure there would be no repeat of the dramatic collapse from a position of strength that sparked the loss in the last game.
Munro's presence through the 19 overs it took the home side to chase down an Amazon Warriors total of 156 for seven, was the difference between the teams. Denesh Ramdin's slash to third man off Rayad Emrit sealed the deal for TKR, as they closed on 162 for three. It was a victory fashioned from the rockiest of starts.
First ball of the chase, Brendon McCullum drove left-armer Sohail Tanvir straight into Gajanand Singh's at short cover. And Tanvir would argue he should have had two in two when Munro survived a confident cry for lbw to a delivery that just may have been missing leg-stump. Munro also escaped when wicketkeeper Chadwick Walton failed to hold a chance off the glove as he tried to pull off-spinner Steven Jacobs in the fourth over.
The New Zealander took full advantage of those close calls to mix some thrilling left-handed hitting with the required care.
Munro shared a stand of 79 for the second wicket with a more measured Sunil Narine (23, 22 balls). And after Darren Bravo (17) feathered a catch to keeper Walton off Roshon Primus in the 13th, he got the required support from Denesh Ramdin who took some of the run-making pressure off his partner with his dynamic 23-ball 42 not out (three fours, three sixes). Still, the Warriors bowlers, led by the impressive Afghanistan teenaged leg-spinner Rashid Khan (4-1-18-0) were making the home side work for the win until the 16th over when Ramdin pulled and slapped Primus for four and six off the first two balls to help reduce the equation to a routine 29 off 24 balls.
Earlier, after skipper Dwayne Bravo had won the toss and predictably inserted the opposition, the Knight Riders conducted a sound field operation.
Whereas the Amazon Warriors somehow contrived to drop Sunil Narine off consecutive balls—Primus inexplicably so off his own bowling in the run chase--the TKR fielders caught everything that came to hand and threw themselves around smartly to stop certain boundaries.
Khary Pierre may have taken some punishment when he bowled, conceding 24 in his three overs, but he made up with three perfectly judged catches in the deep.
Shadab Khan certainly owed him many thanks, Pierre helping to dismiss three of his four victims.
The first was the best and perhaps most important. Amazon Warriors captain Martin Guptil (24, 14 balls) was looking ominous. Second over of the match, he put new TKR all-rounder Robert Frylinck out of the attack with a lashing that included two sixes and two fours in an over that yielded 26.
The onslaught prompted Bravo to call for back-up in Shadab for the fourth over, and first ball Guptill looked to clear long-on, only for Pierre to dive forward and hold the catch just before ball hit turf. That was the first wicket of four for the once-again impressive leg-spin talent.
Next over, Narine (4-0-16-2) took over at the southern end and trapped Babar Azam lbw with a ball that would have struck middle stump to peg the Amazon Warriors back at 50 for two.
Bravo's dual spin snipers had struck again, and the skipper promptly removed them for later. Meanwhile, opener Walton (36, 23 balls) continued to look for maximum value for his shots. He cleared the boundary four times while striking a single four before he was third out in the ninth over, top-edging the miserly Kevon Cooper (4-0-19-1) high into the night sky and straight into the safe hands of the patient McCullum at cover, midway through the ninth over.
Cooper, Shadab and Narine slowed the flow of the “Amazon.” But the Warriors continued to battle for their runs through robust “Prime Time” Primus with a run-a-ball 23, Tanvir (11 off 13), and Keemo Paul (14, seven balls) and Emrit (11, six balls) who shared an unbroken seventh wicket partnership of 26 to push their side past 150.
It was a decent effort but lacked the finishing touch from a top order bat.
It lacked the Munro touch.