Patrick Noone analyses Khary Pierre’s outstanding contribution with the ball as TKR’s perfect run continues
Trinbago Knight Riders’ CPL season has obviously been a success story but their success has come very much as team, rather than through relying on one or two individuals. One by one, different players have stood up and made telling contributions with either bat or ball. First it was Sunil Narine, then Ali Khan, at other times it’s been Kieron Pollard or perhaps Dwayne Bravo. Rarely have they all delivered their very best in the same match, but there has always been at least one star who has made the difference.
It’s testament to the strength in depth of this TKR squad that their outstanding performer in tonight’s match didn’t even make it into the XI in their first outing of the season. Left-arm spinner Khary Pierre was overlooked in favour of off-spinner Sikandar Raza when TKR faced tonight’s opponents, Guyana Amazon Warriors, in the opening match of the tournament.
Perhaps on that occasion, the team management were swayed by the number of left-handers in the Amazon Warriors lineup whereas tonight, with conditions at Queen’s Park Oval more spin-friendly than those at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, TKR found room for both in their XI.
It was therefore ironic that Pierre’s first two wickets were two of the Amazon Warriors left-handers. Both Chandrapaul Hemraj and Nicholas Pooran departed in similar fashion in the third over of the match. Both were beaten by significant turn off the pitch as Pierre fired it in outside their off-stump, both were helpless as they heard the death rattle behind them.
Pierre dismissed another left-hander when he came back for his second spell as Sherfane Rutherford holed out with a slog-sweep. At that stage, Pierre had bowled six balls to left-handers, conceded four runs and taken three wickets.
It was a reminder that, for all the importance of matchups in T20 cricket, there are times when the direction of deviation is less important than bowling well in favourable conditions. Beating the batsman on the inside edge is more than possible if you’re good enough to do so and Pierre showed that he could be a threat irrespective of the handedness of the batsman he was bowling to. Besides, across his career, Pierre actually has a marginally better strike rate against left-handers (19.5) than right-handers (21.3).
Pierre would finish with career-best figures of 3-18. Only once has he registered a better economy rate and only twice has he bowled a higher percentage of dot balls during a four over spell. He drew a false shot with 28% of the balls he bowled, the highest percentage of any TKR bowler. It was a highly skilled performance from a bowler who judged the conditions to perfection from the very first ball he bowled.
It says a lot about the bowling talent TKR have at their disposal that there was only room for their leading wicket-taker, Ali Khan, to bowl one over in the innings. With that kind of depth, it’s perhaps not a surprise that they sit atop the table with five wins from five. But nonetheless this was another impressive display from the Knight Riders.
Pierre and the other bowlers did well to restrict their opponents to 112 and, while that was not a straightforward chase in those conditions and against the Amazon Warriors’ attack, the chase was completed with minimal fuss.
For Guyana, it was a fourth defeat of an increasingly concerning season. They will be confident of bouncing back in their next match, given they will be facing St Kitts & Nevis Patriots, but their struggles with the bat are fast becoming a crisis.
Meanwhile, TKR march on. The five wins they’ve achieved this campaign already matches their total from last year and their place in the playoffs is all but secure.
Patrick Noone is a CricViz analyst