Feature

CPL 2022 - Patriots, Knight Riders the teams to beat; new-look Royals hope for turnaround

A look at all six men's squads ahead of the tenth edition of the competition

Deivarayan Muthu
29-Aug-2022
CPL 2022 is set to kick off on August 31 and will be played across four venues in St Kitts, St Lucia, Trinidad and Guyana, with the final scheduled for September 30. It features all the top West Indies players - minus Carlos Brathwaite who is at the Hundred - and some bright overseas talents. ESPNcricinfo runs the rule over each team in the tournament.

Trinbago Knight Riders

Coach: Abhishek Nayar
Captain: Kieron Pollard
Overseas players: Colin Munro and Tim Seifert (both New Zealand), Ali Khan (USA), Maheesh Theekshana and Seekkuge Prasanna (both Sri Lanka), Daryn Dupavillon (South Africa)
In 2020, when Brendon McCullum was in charge of Knight Riders, he stated that they could be "highly competitive" against any franchise in T20 cricket. This year, Knight Riders have got even stronger with the return of West Indies' white-ball captain Nicholas Pooran and the inclusion of Andre Russell. Notably, having represented Jamaica Tallwahs for eight years since 2013, this will be the first time that Russell will be the CPL in colours that aren't from his home country. And judging by his with six sixes in a row in the 6IXTY, he looks in fine form.
The presence of Sunil Narine, captain Kieron Pollard and Colin Munro, the top scorer in the CPL among all overseas players, make Knight Riders a star-studded line-up. However, that alone can't guarantee success as they found out last season, suffering an early exit after losing the semi-final to St Lucia Kings.
Mystery spinner Maheesh Theekshana is currently with the Sri Lanka side in the UAE for the Asia Cup and will link up with the squad after that tournament. Knight Riders, though, will have the all-round services of another Sri Lankan: Seekkuge Prasanna who has played for them in the past. USA quick Ali Khan, who is working his way back from a fractured forearm he suffered during the T20 World Cup qualifier in July, missed the 6IXTY and if he doesn't regain fitness in time, South African quick Daryn Dupavillon could be the overseas fast bowler for Knight Riders at the CPL.
Verdict: Pollard's men have nearly all bases covered once again and with the homecoming of Pooran and the addition of Russell, they are the favourites along with St Kitts & Nevis Patriots.
Possible XI: 1 Tion Webster, 2 Tim Seifert (wk), 3 Colin Munro, 4 Nicholas Pooran, 5 Kieron Pollard (capt), 6 Andre Russell, 7 Seekkuge Prasanna/Maheesh Theekshana, 8 Sunil Narine, 9 Akeal Hosein, 10 Anderson Phillip, 11 Ravi Rampaul/Daryn Dupavillon

St Kitts & Nevis Patriots

Coach: Simon Helmot
Captain: Dwayne Bravo
Overseas players: Wanindu Hasaranga and Akila Dananjaya (both from Sri Lanka), Dwaine Pretorius, Duan Jansen and Dewald Brevis (all from South Africa), Qasim Akram (Pakistan), Izharulhaq Naveed (Afghanistan)
Having completed the double of winning CPL 2021 and the inaugural men's 6IXTY, Dwayne Bravo's Patriots are the team to beat this CPL. Helmot and Bravo know how to win titles, having also done so at Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel, and have created a team environment that nurtures youngsters.
Chris Gayle, however, has opted out of the tournament, having turned all his focus to the 6IXTY. Evin Lewis is back in action after having been omitted from West Indies' recent white-ball squads on fitness grounds. Andre Fletcher, who has moved from Kings, will partner Lewis at the top, with both batters looking to press their cases for T20 World Cup selection.
Sherfane Rutherford and Dominic Drakes, the Player of the Match in the 2021 CPL final, lend depth to the line-up. Darren Bravo will reunite with his brother Dwayne at Patriots after they played together at TKR. However, it remains to be seen whether their powerplay specialist Sheldon Cottrell has recovered well enough from injury to take a first-team role. The left-arm seamer has not played a competitive game since February 2022.
Wanindu Hasaranga, who is currently with Sri Lanka at the Asia Cup, Izharulhaq Naveed, the 18-year-old Afghanistan legspinner, Dwayne Bravo and Dwaine Pretorius could be particularly effective once the pitches get slower. Naveed has played only 10 T20s so far but has already got a taste of the big leagues. Earlier this year, he was at the IPL with Royal Challengers Bangalore as a net bowler and more recently he was picked up by Sydney Sixers in the BBL draft.
Verdict: Patriots look good for a three-peat: CPL 2021, 6IXTY 2022, CPL 2022.
Possible XI: 1 Evin Lewis, 2 Andre Fletcher, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Dewald Brevis, 5 Joshua da Silva (wk), 6 Sherfane Rutherford, 7 Dwayne Bravo (capt), 8 Dominic Drakes, 9 Jon-Russ Jaggesar/Izharulhaq Naveed, 10 Sheldon Cottrell, 11 Duan Jansen/Akila Dananjaya

St Lucia Kings

Coach: Daren Sammy
Captain: Faf du Plessis
Overseas players: Faf du Plessis (South Africa), Tim David (Australia), David Wiese (Namibia), Scott Kuggeleijn (New Zealand)
Kings have plenty of substance in their batting line-up led by the vastly experienced Faf du Plessis and the in-form Tim David, but the bowling attack appears squishy. They couldn't hold onto the likes of Obed McCoy and Keemo Paul and they also lack a quality spinner although Roston Chase's offspin can be handy in slow and low conditions (there is a cloud over his fitness though). So, the onus will be on IPL 2022 winner Alzarri Joseph and CPL 2020 top wicket-taker Scott Kuggeleijn to carry Kings' attack.
Verdict: Kings seem over-reliant on their overseas stars and might struggle to make the playoffs this time, unless of course, Sammy and du Plessis pull off a miracle.
Possible XI: 1 Johnson Charles (wk), 2 Faf du Plessis (capt), 3 Roshun Primus/Ackeem Auguste/Rivaldo Clarke, 4 Roston Chase, 5 Tim David, 6 Mark Deyal, 7 David Wiese, 8 Jeavor Royal, 9 Scott Kuggeleijn, 10 Alzarri Joseph, 11 Kesrick Williams

Guyana Amazon Warriors

Coach: Rayon Griffith
Captain: Shimron Hetmyer
Overseas players: Imran Tahir, Tabraiz Shamsi, Colin Ingram and Heinrich Klaasen (all from South Africa), Paul Stirling (Ireland), Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)
Shimron Hetmyer is set for his CPL captaincy debut, six years after he led West Indies to the Under-19 World Cup triumph in Bangladesh. There is no Pooran for Guyana Amazon Warriors, but Ireland opener Paul Stirling could bend attacks out of shape in the powerplay and Heinrich Klaasen is a good player of spin in the middle. Seam-bowling allrounder Keemo Paul has returned to the franchise, joining forces with Romario Shepherd and Odean Smith.
Amazon Warriors' biggest strength is the depth and variety in their spin attack. South Africa left-arm wristspinner Tabraiz Shamsi is back with the tournament that put him on the map. Then there are Imran Tahir (legspinner) and a trio of left-arm fingerspinners - Gudakesh Motie, Veerasammy Permaul, and Shakib Al Hasan (who will likely fill in for Shamsi once he leaves the tournament midway).
It will also be interesting to see whether fast bowler Ronsford Beaton can still be penetrative after having corrected his bowling action. The 29-year-old was suspended from bowling in November 2019 and has played only three games (all in the recent 6IXTY) since.
Verdict: If the batters back up the spinners, Amazon Warriors could break their knockouts jinx.
Possible XI: 1 Chandrapaul Hemraj, 2 Paul Stirling, 3 Jermaine Blackwood, 4 Shimron Hetmyer (capt), 5 Heinrich Klaasen (wk), 6 Odean Smith, 7 Romario Shepherd, 8 Keemo Paul, 9 Ronsford Beaton/Gudakesh Motie, 10 Tabraiz Shamsi, 11 Imran Tahir

Jamaica Tallawahs

Coach: Shivnarine Chanderpaul
Captain: Rovman Powell
Overseas players: Sandeep Lamichhane (Nepal), Imad Wasim and Mohammad Amir (both from Pakistan), Migael Pretorius (South Africa), Chris Green (Australia)
Andre Russell's move to Knight Riders has created a massive void in the Tallawahs' line-up, but it offers a chance for captain Rovman Powell to step up and carve out his own identity. There is a rich local Jamaican flavour in the squad in the form of Powell himself, Brandon King, who has shifted from Amazon Warriors, Fabian Allen, who has moved from Patriots and Kennar Lewis.
Allen, who returns to top-flight cricket after a personal break, could potentially be their finisher while Imad Wasim could be used as a floater, his left-handedness a useful weapon against opposition spin bowlers.
Sandeep Lamichhane and Chris Green often function on auto-pilot in the CPL, so regularly have they been here. Migael Pretorius could be the seam-bowling enforcer for Tallawahs.
Verdict: Tallawahs have often adopted a top-heavy, boom-or-bust approach with the bat lately and this season is no different. They continue to be unpredictable.
Possible XI: 1 Brandon King, 2 Amir Jangoo (wk), 3 Shamarh Brooks/Kennar Lewis, 4 Rovman Powell, 5 Fabian Allen, 6 Imad Wasim, 7 Chris Green, 8 Raymon Reifer, 9 Joshua James/Marquino Mindley, 10 Sandeep Lamichhane, 11 Migael Pretorius/Mohammad Amir

Barbados Royals

Coach: Trevor Penney
Captain: David Miller
Overseas players: David Miller, Quinton de Kock, Corbin Bosch (all from South Africa), Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afghanistan), Harry Tector (Ireland), Azam Khan (Pakistan)
After having finished rock bottom in CPL 2021, the only way for Barbados Royals is up. They have now put together a more dynamic batting line-up that will be led by David Miller, who is perhaps in the form of his life, and Quinton de Kock. Miller also takes over as captain from Jason Holder while Rahkeem Cornwall has joined Royals from Kings.
Pakistan's Azam Khan, the son of Moin Khan, could slot in as a middle-order spin-hitter after having obtained an NOC from the PCB. Devon Thomas will likely float in the line-up and will look to push his case as a back-up keeper to Pooran for the forthcoming T20 World Cup. This CPL will also be a vital tournament, in terms of national selection, for legspinner Hayden Walsh Jr. who leaked runs in his recent international outings against New Zealand and India.
Verdict: Royals have pedigree with the bat, but their hit-or-miss bowling attack might peg them back.
Possible XI: 1 Quinton de Kock, 2 Kyle Mayers, 3 Rahkeem Cornwall, 4 David Miller (capt), 5 Devon Thomas (wk), 6 Azam Khan, 7 Jason Holder, 8 Corbin Bosch/Mujeeb Ur Rahman, 9 Obed McCoy, 10 Oshane Thomas/Joshua Bishop, 11 Hayden Walsh Jr.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo