Trinbago Knight Riders 147 for 6 (Narine 50, Darren Bravo 30, Naveen-ul-Haq 2-21, Tahir 2-40) beat Guyana Amazon Warriors 144 for 5 (Hetmyer 63*, Taylor 33, Narine 2-19) by four wickets
17 overs per side
There was rain, rustiness and a remarkable display by a bonafide T20 great, as Trinbago Knight Riders overcame a stumble to win the opening game of CPL 2020 against Guyana Amazon Warriors. With most players getting back to cricket after layoffs longer than they've ever had before, the cricket was patchy in parts - but that didn't apply to Sunil Narine
. With ball in hand he showed off new tricks, and with the bat, proved just how valuable he could be for a team with the license to go for it at the top of the order.
Persistent rain meant the game began 90 minutes after the scheduled start, and was reduced to 17 overs a side. A cloudy sky and a shortened match made it a straightforward decision for Kieron Pollard to bowl first on winning the toss, but he and the Knight Riders would have hoped to chase a bit less than the 144 for 5 that the Warriors got, riding on the back of Shimron Hetmyer
's 63* off 44. However, Narine - who had taken 2 for 19 in four overs - came back out to slam 50 off 28 in the chase, which provided enough of a buffer to account for a late collapse as the Knight Riders won by four wickets, with two balls to spare.
The return of Narine, the mystery bowler
He has apparently spent the Covid-19 enforced lockdown perfecting new skills, because Narine unveiled a new bowling action in his first match back. He did away with any sort of load-up, instead hiding the ball behind his hip as he ran in to bowl and delivering from there itself. He had not been easy to read for batsmen in any case, and now proved even more difficult. Crucially, he didn't lose any bite or accuracy with the new action. He bowled two overs in the Powerplay (reduced to five overs) and then two in the middle, getting the important wickets of opener Chandrapaul Hemraj and a resurgent Ross Taylor. Narine gave up runs at 4.75 an over, and no other bowler went below 7.
Warriors had a tepid start, with Hetmyer walking in to bat in the first over itself after Brandon King had fallen for a duck. He took his time settling in, preferring to knock the ball around rather than go for big shots. The pitch too wasn't one where it was easy to start rapidly. Hetmyer assessed that and gradually started stepping on the pace, eventually finishing with a flurry that took Warriors to a more than competitive total. Taylor had provided the initial impetus after two early wickets, which allowed Hetmyer to bide his time. Importantly, he made it count.
In the first four overs, Narine faced only four balls as Lendl Simmons ate up deliveries and was unable to get on with it. There was nothing to show that the mounting rate and not feeling bat on ball affected Narine in any way though, as he blazed merrily away once Simmons fell. As with several Narine top-order innings, this one had its share of balls not always middled, but it also had some amazingly struck shots. Narine gave the Knight Riders enough impetus with his half-century that despite some late strikes by Imran Tahir and an impressive Naveen-ul-Haq
, they had the chase within reach at all times.