Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
Trinbago Knight Riders 158 for 7 (Pollard 41, Seifert 37, Williams 4-24) beat St Lucia Kings 131 for 7 (Fletcher 81*, Rampaul 3-34, Udana 2-32) by 27 runs
After a stuttering start, defending champions Trinbago Knight Riders got their CPL 2021 campaign back on track with a commanding 27-run win over St Lucia Kings. Two days back, Knight Riders had lost a thrilling chase by five runs against Kings, but there were no slip-ups in this game. First, Kieron Pollard and Tim Seifert had an end-overs blitz that lifted Knight Riders to 158 for 7, a steep total on a slow pitch. Then the bowlers tied down the Kings batters with accuracy and guile, keeping them to 131 for 7.
Kings had made two changes to the side that won the last game. Samit Patel, fresh off a successful stint in the Hundred, was out of quarantine and into the squad, while Kesrick Williams came in based on the conditions: a fresh pitch from the one used in the previous eight CPL 2021 games which had more grass. Williams had a successful outing, picking up 4 for 24.
Put in to bat, Knight Riders had a sluggish start, punctuated by regular wickets. The lack of pace in the surface meant none of the batters found fluency. The dawdling run rate also led to wickets as they tried to hit out. Knight Riders kept Seifert, who nearly won them the last match, at No. 6 but he was in as early as the 12th over, joining Pollard. While both men were initially unable to find the big hits, their boundary-hitting ability meant the longer they stayed in, the greater the chances for a grandstand finish.
The shackles were slipped loose after Knight Riders were 81 for 4 in 14 overs. They were completely broken in a 21-run 19th over, by Wahab Riaz, that lasted ten balls. The bowler was lucky he bowled only ten balls, with the fifth legal ball not ruled a wide despite being well away from Seifert. In a seeming protest, Pollard walked across all the way to stand at midwicket at the non-striker's end, before coming back to a more regular spot.
The drama notwithstanding, Knight Riders plundered 77 runs in the last six overs to finish on a high.
Kings needed to be quickly off the blocks to challenge the total, but much like in the first innings, the ball wasn't coming onto the bat comfortably. Andre Fletcher stayed the course of the innings, but no one apart from him made more than 15. Crucially, four of the top six scored at less than a run-a-ball while Tim David, hero of the victory in the last match, was out first ball, nicking Ravi Rampaul behind after being held back to No. 6 and coming in only in the 15th over. Rampaul struck thrice in eight balls to dismantle Kings' middle order, as their hopes of a late surge evaporated.
Fletcher stayed unbeaten on a 55-ball 81 but in the last quarter of the chase, it was only about reducing the margin of defeat.