New Zealander Colin Munro signalled his entry to this year’s Hero Caribbean Premier League Friday night with a brilliant half-century, steering the Trinbago Knight Riders to a new record franchise T20 total and a 41-run battering of the Jamaica Tallawahs at Sabina Park, Jamaica.
Munro hit an unbeaten 96 and shared in two vital partnerships of 124 with opener Lendl Simmons and 86 with skipper Kieron Pollard (45 no), as TKR belted 171 runs in the last 10 overs on their way to posting 267-2, the highest ever CPL total and second-highest ever T20 score, before restricting the Tallawahs to 226-5.
Munro, who joined the team this week following international duty, brought out his full array of strokes on the night, including his famous reverse sweeps, as he belted six fours and eight maximums off 50 just balls. More importantly, his Man-of-the match effort helped TKR remain unbeaten and regain sole leadership of the six-team table with eight points.
The Guyana Amazon Warriors fell to second on the table with six points, while the St Kitts Nevis Patriots, St Lucia Zouks and Barbados Tridents were bundled together on two each. The Tallawahs remained anchored to the bottom of the table following their fourth straight loss and their worst ever start in the CPL.
However, another Kiwi star, Glenn Phillips, almost gave the Tallawahs the impetus they needed to pull off a record victory. He combined with veteran Chris Gayle in an opening partnership of 88 at rapid pace as the Tallawahs tried to will themselves to the mammoth total.
However, when Gayle was removed for 39, bowled middle stump by a quick one from pacer Mohammad Hasnain, returning in the eighth over for a second spell, the home fans knew this would not be their night. In fact, Hasnain was not done there either, as he removed the dangerous Chadwick Walton (8) four balls later, caught behind by wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin after he mistimed a pull shot and sent a skier into the Kingston night – a double strike which pegged back the home side at 96-2.
The total effectively became 96 for three when all-rounder Rovman Powell lofted left-arm orthodox spinner Khary Pierre over the ropes but then recoiled in pain from an apparent abdominal injury which had flared up while he was bowling and had to leave the field hurt.
Forced to up the scoring thereafter, Phillips finally succumbed when he planted a Pollard slower delivery straight into the hands of Munro at deep mid-wicket as the Tallawahs began losing momentum at 126-3. George Worker (18) followed him into the pavilion 10 runs later but probably counted himself very unlucky. He blasted a short ball off Jimmy Neesham towards backward square boundary only to see Ali Khan rise up to take a catch and balance himself on one leg as he wobbled for a while to ensure he didn’t fall over with the ball.
After that, some late big hitting from Javelle Glen (34) and Ramaal Lewis (37) provided some excitement for the home fans but it was only a matter of time before they were wondering what has gone wrong with the Tallawahs’ drive their season and TKR were celebrating a historic win.
Earlier, Sunil Narine and Lendl Simmons showed TKR’s intent from the first ball although they were not as successful they usually are.
Narine in particular, known for his blazing starts, struggled to get the ball to the boundaries as his timing was just off-colour on the night. However, the pair still managed to score quickly as Tallawahs, coming off three losses, produced another inept performance in the field with ragged bowling and fielding.
Narine and Simmons still shared a 55-run opening partnership in the power play overs before the former went bowled by Afghan spinner Zahir Khan going for a slog sweep. Narine departed for 20 runs off 18 balls including three fours and a six - pedestrian by his standards.
But this brought Munro to the crease for his first knock of the season and he immediately signalled bad intent. He cut the very first ball he saw from Khan for four and reversed swept the third for six over the point boundary.
Simmons, dropped twice in the tenth over by Jermaine Taylor on 40 and by Glen on 42, brought up his half-century in the 12th over off 32 balls and added 35 more runs to that in quick time. But after sharing a century stand with Munro, Simmons was run out in bizarre fashion off a free hit in the 15th over. He skied pacer Oshane Thomas high into the air and was caught near the long-on boundary by Glen who began celebrating. After teammates alerted Glen to the fact that it was a free hit, he threw the ball to Thomas, who ran out Simmons going for a third run. Simmons' 86 came off 42 balls and included eight fours and five maximums.
Pollard now strode to the crease with his mind on a mammoth total. And he and Munro promptly proceeded to do just that with their 88-run third-wicket partnership. Towards the end of the innings, Munro was denied what would have been a well-played century when he unselfishly allowed Pollard the strike in the last over as he struggled to get the ball to the boundary after being hit on the hand by a beamer from pacer Derval Green.
TRINBAGO KNIGHT RIDERS 267-2 (Colin Munro 96*, Lendl Simmons 86, Kieron Pollard 45*, Zahir Khan 1/42) v JAMAICA TALLAWAHS 226-5 (Glenn Phillips 62, Chris Gayle 39, Ramaal Lewis 37 no, Mohammad Hasnain 2/51, Kieron Pollard 1/13)
Result: TKR won by 41 runs
Man-of-the-Match: Colin Munro (TKR)