Trinbago Knight Riders 195 for 6 (Munro 68, Ramdin 50*, Pollard 2-22, Kesrick 2-28) beat St Lucia Stars 95 (Fletcher 19, Bravo 3-11, Fawad 3-19) by 100 runs
Colin Munro and Denesh Ramdin bookended the Powerplay and end of the innings with half-centuries on the way to the highest ever total at Queen's Park Oval in the CPL's six-year history. This helped defending champions Trinbago Knight Riders open the 2018 edition with a thumping 100-run win over St Lucia Stars.
Though the team has been rejigged, with a new captain in Kieron Pollard, the results for ST Lucia clearly haven't taken a drastic turn for the better. They are now on a 12-match losing streak stretching back to 2016, when they were called Zouks.
The Curse of the Zouks continues
Two balls into the 2018 season, the Stars showed they have not escaped their woes from the previous season; Darren Sammy shelled a regulation chance at slip off Chris Lynn. It was the first of four drops in the innings. It's another thing that Lynn didn't make them pay as he fell soon after.
Sunil Narine was reprieved off the very first ball he faced, in the second over, at short midwicket by Kesrick Williams, while Brendon McCullum got a second life when wicketkeeper Andre Fletcher couldn't latch onto a thin edge off Afghan legspinner Qais Ahmad. To sum up the sorry state of the Stars fielding, the sure-handed David Warner spilled a chance at wide long-on in the 19th over to give Dwayne Bravo a life.
TKR's No. 3 on the Munny
Munro piloted the Knight Riders batting unit in 2017 with 366 runs and picked up right where he left off. Entering five balls into the match after Lynn toe-ended a dipping Mitchell McClenaghan full toss to cover, Munro snuffed out any momentum the Stars hoped to build, stroking a 48-ball 68.
Munro reserved his harshest punishment for Qais. The last four balls of the ninth over went: four over extra cover, four edged past Fletcher behind the stumps, four through extra cover again followed by a six slog swept viciously over midwicket.
Munro was undeterred as the wickets of Narine, Brendon McCullum and Darren Bravo fell around him, cutting Pollard past a stumbling Sammy at backward point in the 12th over to bring up a 33-ball half-century. He added 51 for the fifth wicket with Ramdin before falling when he walked too far across his stumps to flick Pollard over fine leg. But by that stage the Knight Riders had an excellent platform to launch for a record total.
TKR's battering Ram
When Munro fell, there were only 25 balls left in the innings and Ramdin had only reached 22 off 16 balls. But he scored 28 (off 11 balls) of the final 45 runs for Knight Riders in a furious flurry. The highlight was a gloriously effortless scoop for six over extra cover in the 19th off McClenaghan.
Bravo got out two balls later and Ramdin started the 20th on strike to Kesric Williams, who in spite of his second-over drop of Narine had been the standout bowler for Stars until that point. His figures read 2 for 11 off three overs, but it all came tumbling down in his final over.
A single by Ramdin was followed by consecutive fours from Javon Searles. Ramdin got back on strike for the fifth ball which was spiked over point for six before a single to end the innings brought up Ramdin's half-century and set the Stars a target that was 32 runs more than they had ever successfully chased. Just for the record, Trinbago were undefeated at home in 2017, never conceding more than 158 in their five matches at Queen's Park Oval. Here they had the security of another 37 in the bank.
The Khan-can dance
Dwayne Bravo became quite a fan of Ali Khan after the Ohio resident's fantastic performances with the new ball under Bravo's captaincy at Winnipeg Hawks in the Global T20 Canada last month. So not only did Bravo facilitate Khan's call-up as a replacement for Ronsford Beaton in the TKR squad for 2018, he had no hesitation picking him right away in the starting XI for opening night and giving him the first over ahead of Shannon Gabriel.
The American justified Bravo's faith with a tidy six-run first over that ended with a badge-kissing celebration after Fletcher edged an outswinger behind for a regulation chance. But the party had to be curtailed when Ramdin waved to his team-mates indicating that he had in fact dropped the ball behind the stumps.
Khan had Fletcher trapped on the toe with a perfect yorker in front of middle in the third over only for the umpire to turn down his appeal for lbw. But Fletcher's luck ran out on the fifth ball of the over when Khan reached deeper into his bag of tricks to flummox Fletcher with a slower one that had the batsman grope for the ball well out in front of his body resulting in the stumps being knocked back. Fletcher's 19 wound up being their highest score for the night.
Fawad joins the party
Fawad Ahmed was brought in as a like-for-like replacement for Pakistan legspinner Shadab Khan. On the basis of Friday's performance, there isn't much to choose between them. Brought on at the end of the Powerplay when the Stars were 47 for 3, Fawad castled Lendl Simmons with a googly first ball, then had Mark Chapman driving to cover three balls later, accelerating a Stars collapse that saw them lose their 10 wickets for 60 runs. It was the worst margin of defeat by runs for the Stars and just the third time in the history of the CPL that a team lost by 100 runs or more.