The Trinbago Knight Riders are the 2017 CPL Champions, as usual, in dramatic fashion. Dwayne Bravo did his champion dance once more in front of a capacity crowd at Queen’s Park Oval and the Knight Riders stole victory jaw from defeat in a thrilling innings that saw them struggle early but catch fire late. For the 11th time in 13 matches, Bravo won the toss at the beginning of the game and elected to field first, a strategy that had been a winning formula for them all season. The Patriots started off with a batting display that was quite anemic to begin their innings. Patriots Captain Chris Gayle was caught quite cheaply in the 2nd over after scoring a single run off 7 balls. Mohammed Hafeez who had been a steady presence at the crease had some big shoes to fill but soon fell after scoring 5 off 9 balls and the Patriots looked like they were in for a long night.
It was left to rising T20 Star Evin Lewis, who has been the most explosive batsman of the tournament to put together a run that could possibly allow the Patriots some life. It was not to be however as he fell in the 7th over after scoring 16 off 16 balls. It is important to note how bimodal the Patriots batting had been for the Patriots up to this point. Gayle and Lewis had both scored over 350 runs each and have seven fifties between them from 19 innings. None of the other Patriots batsmen has scored 125 runs or scored a half-century. That being said, it would be a tall order for the Patriots to amass a sizeable run total to compete. They soon settled down however and led by Carlos Brathwaite (30 of 25 balls) and workman’s 19 off 21 balls for Brandon King the Patriots completed their innings scoring 135-6. Surgical bowling by Javon Searles (4 overs, 29 runs, 2 wickets) and the outstanding Sunil Narine (4 overs, 8 runs, 1 wicket) proved crucial in establishing momentum for the Knight Riders.
The Patriots were not to go down without a fight, as the stable of bowlers proved to be the most formidable they have been for the CPL season. Magnificent performances by Mohammed Hafeez(4 overs, 19 runs, 2 wickets), Tabraiz Shamsi(4 overs, 20 runs, 2 wickets) and Sheldon Cottrell(3 overs, 21 runs, 2 wickets) left the home team reeling and their run chase seemed to be in shambles standing at 90-7. Once again, in what seemed like fate, it was no other than Dinesh Ramdin assisted by a late flurry by Kevon Cooper that lifted the Knight Riders into immortality.
The comeback began in when he destroyed Cottrell for six at the end of the 18th over, bringing the equation down to 22 balls off 12. Hilfenhaus bowled two wides. Outstanding fielding by Nabi turned a potential four into but another full toss that was again signaled as a wide was hit for 6. After three successive boundaries from Cooper off Hilfenhaus, victory seemed sure: and surely it came in a hard-fought comeback win.
The Patriots is a franchise on the rise, under the leadership of Chris Gayle, having now reached their first CPL Final after two successive unsuccessful campaigns. This is Trinidad’s second title in CPL’s history.