Colin Munro's 68* seals Trinbago Knight Riders' third CPL title
Trinbago Knight Riders 150 for 2 (Munro 68, McCullum 39, Green 1-30) beat Guyana Amazon Warriors 147 for 9 (Ronchi 44, Pierre 3-29) by eight wickets
Trinbago Knight Riders became the first back-to-back champions in the CPL, and the first three-time winners in the tournament's history, after yet another Colin Munro half-century cemented an eight-wicket win over Guyana Amazon Warriors at Brian Lara Stadium.
TKR's top-to-bottom depth was too much for the Amazon Warriors and ensured they remained runners-up for the fourth time. Ali Khan and Fawad Ahmed took a wicket each to get TKR off to a confident start after sending Amazon Warriors in at the toss before Khary Pierre slammed the door shut with a devastating three-wicket spell to set up an easy chase. Munro then clinched victory with his record-setting sixth fifty of the tournament, ending it as its leading run-scorer. His unbeaten 68 off 39 balls took him to 567 runs, 109 more than the previous best single-season tally.
Blink and you missed it
The night got off to a dream start for Knight Riders when Khan struck with the first ball of the final. He got a touch of inswing on a full delivery curling back to beat Cameron Delport's drive and knock out off stump. It was Khan's lone wicket on the night, his 16th to put him tied for third overall with Imran Tahir, but he continued keeping things tight throughout to build pressure and finished as the most economical bowler for TKR on the night.
Fawad Ahmed, this year's highest wicket-taker, signed off with another impactful spell, getting the prized scalp of Shimron Hetmyer with a clever comeback ball. Hetmyer had driven Fawad for a straight six to start the seventh but Fawad followed it with a loopier ball on the same length but a fraction wider outside off. It compelled Hetmyer to check his drive into a poke that sent an edge to slip making it 52 for 2.
Khary Pierre's non-selection at times for TKR has been a head-scratcher amongst neutrals because in the games he has played he has doubled as a miserly container, the most economical bowler in CPL 2018 for anyone who bowled at least one over per team, and a potent wicket-taking threat. The same held true on Sunday night as he ripped apart the heart of Amazon Warriors' line-up.
Pierre saved his best for last. With Luke Ronchi well set for a major score, Pierre removed him two balls after drinks for a top-score of 44 caught driving to the extra-cover sweeper. Three balls later, Chadwick Walton was out prodding his second ball to slip.
But le magnifique came two balls into his next over. Sherfane Rutherford has developed a quick reputation for his belligerent six-hitting prowess that may soon require hard hats in the crowd. Pierre floated up a full ball that Rutherford smoked straight back at Pierre's head. Pierre stuck up his right hand more in self-defense than a catching attempt but managed to cup the drive, leaving Rutherford and the rest of the Guyana squad shellshocked at 95 for 5 in the 13th, making him an easy choice for Player of the Final. Some scratchy lower-order grinding took Guyana to 147, a total which never looked like being enough.
TKR opted for a first-time pairing at the top of the order to start the chase. Denesh Ramdin was promoted to open for the first time this season with Brendon McCullum, a strategic move motivated by captain Dwayne Bravo's desire to avoid giving Amazon Warriors captain Chris Green a left-hander to bowl at in the Powerplay. The move paid off in the form of TKR's highest opening stand of the season as they took control of the chase through McCullum's aggression.
McCullum smacked five fours and two sixes to dominate the stand before he fell top-edging another heave against Chris Green to make it 52 for 1 in the seventh over. An 85-minute rain delay occurred in the ninth over but did little to disrupt Knight Riders' momentum. The only other hiccup came when Ramdin fell in the 12th in bizarre fashion, backing up too deep in his crease to cut Romario Shepherd only to chop the bails off to be out hit wicket.
Ramdin's wicket opened the door for Munro to take center stage. Fittingly, the Player of the Tournament steered TKR across the line with another cold-blooded knock. Guyana appeared to be doing a resilient job stretching out the match as TKR needed 31 off the final four overs before Munro hammered Rayad Emrit for three consecutive sixes in the 17th over to reach his half-century in 33 balls.
With four needed to win at the start of the 18th, Munro cut two behind point as Colin Ingram jogged the second to ensure Munro had the opportunity to deservedly hit the championship runs. The moment came two balls later when Munro slapped a short ball through the same region for his sixth four before sprinting off toward delirious home fans waiting at the boundary. Captain Bravo and the rest of the TKR squad joined Munro in the victory sprint, a symbolic moment in a season during which few could keep up with the Knight Riders.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna