CricViz analyst Freddie Wilde examines Barbados Tridents’ CPL so far.
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The Barbados Tridents win against the Patriots on the opening night of the season was a match that exhibited the two defining features of their squad and likely strategy: batting depth—they were 8 for 3 and 116 for 8 but still posted a match-winning 153; and spin bowling—Rashid Khan, Mitchell Santner, Hayden Walsh Jr and Ashley Nurse bowled 11 overs between them.
However, since then the defending champions have lost consecutive matches – firstly against St Lucia Zouks and then against Trinbago Knight Riders – and in both defeats they demonstrated fundamental tactical failings that badly misused the resources at their disposal.
Firstly, against the Zouks the Tridents won the toss and curiously elected to bat (only two of the ten toss winners have chosen to bat), despite the fact that rain was forecast during the match. The Tridents decision to bat first was likely motivated by the fact that the match was the fifth played on the particular strip being used and they felt their spin strength would better exploit the slow and low conditions in the second innings. However, ignoring the forecast rain was a costly decision. Reduced overs matches often favour the chasing team because they are afforded all ten wickets for a very short innings. This is exactly what happened with the rain arriving after 18.1 overs of the Tridents’ innings giving the Zouks a low five over target that they knocked off with relative ease.
Admittedly, the Tridents were a touch unlucky that the rain arrived when it did. Because the rain arrived with 11 balls left and only two wickets remaining the DLS target punished Barbados more than it might an average team because with an unusually deep batting order the Tridents had more firepower than most still to come. That said, had they elected to chase—which is far more common in Major T20 Leagues and particularly when rain is forecast—it wouldn’t have been a problem. In that same match the Tridents were clearly outsmarted by the Zouks who expertly deployed their cohort of spinners against Barbados who could have done more to break up pairs of right and left-handed batsmen. In the five over defence, Rashid only bowled one over and Santner didn’t bowl although a wet ball may have been a factor in this decision.
The following match represented an even more significant misuse of resources as Trinbago’s run of left-handers spooked Holder into only bowling five overs of Rashid, Santner and Walsh Jr while deploying their notably poorer quick options. Then with the bat the Tridents left Rashid and Santner unused with the bat in a large run chase. The Tridents unrivalled batting depth means they should rarely end large run chases with more than a few wickets in hand but against Trinbago they finished six down and left Rashid and Santner unused. As Alagappan Vijaykumar noted on Twitter the Tridents being 132 for 5 after 18 overs when chasing 186 is inexcusable for a team with Rashid at number ten.
Even though they aren’t utilising it particularly well the Tridents will be thankful for their depth because at the top of the order Corey Anderson and Shai Hope have struggled badly. Anderson has scored just four runs in three innings while Hope has 58 in three but at less than a run-a-ball.
It’s not been all bad news for Barbados though. While his top order partners have struggled Johnson Charles has been superb—scoring 85 runs off 50 balls in the Powerplay. Meanwhile in the middle order Holder’s batting against spin has been excellent—an asset recognised by @Static_a357 before the start of the season. So far Holder has scored 43 off just 20 balls from the slower bowlers. Given the Tridents depth he should be deployed as a spin power-hitter, coming to the crease through the middle overs, something that worked well against the Zouks.
Given their batting and bowling depth the Tridents have plenty of options to work with but Rashid and Santner aside their lack of elite quality means they need to deploy their resources smartly. So far they’ve failed in that task.
Freddie Wilde is a CricViz analyst, @fwildecricket.