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Match 27 – Trinbago Knight Riders v St Lucia Zouks

Patrick Noone analyses Darren Bravo’s half-century that put TKR on their way to a ninth successive win

Trinbago Knight Riders have become only the second team in CPL history to win nine matches in the group stage after they ran out 23-run winners over St Lucia Zouks. It was another dominant performance from the league leaders who have made four changes in each of their last two matches, but the level of performance has hardly dropped at all, such is the depth of this TKR squad.

Today, their win was underpinned by the batting of Darren Bravo. Perhaps not an obvious T20 star, Bravo has nonetheless played an important role in the Knight Riders’ middle order this season, only failing to reach double figures once and only batting at less than a run-a-ball on one occasion that he’s passed 20 balls.

This was his second half-century of the season and it was a well-paced, anchoring innings that helped TKR to 175-5 from their 20 overs. When he arrived at the crease, Tion Webster and Tim Seifert had helped the score along to 55-2 from seven overs so Bravo was under little pressure to get off to a flyer. He only attacked one of his first five balls and was notably watchful against the off-spin of Roston Chase and the left-arm wrist-spin of Zahir Khan.

Bravo much prefers the ball spinning into him, so the Zouks opting for two bowlers who predominantly take the ball away from the left-hander was a good matchup for them, in theory. The Zouks continued with that line of attack as Mark Deyal was given two overs, meaning that each of the first 18 balls Bravo faced were from either off-spin or left-arm wrist-spin and he was only able to score one boundary during that phase of his innings.

Despite that, Bravo still found a way to score at exactly a run-a-ball and he continued that rate until the end of the 15th over, at which point he’d reached 30 from 30 balls. During the death overs, Bravo upped his attacking shot percentage from 52% to 85%; he might have been riding in the slipstream of Kieron Pollard’s 21-ball onslaught, but Bravo was nonetheless playing an aggressive hand and slogged Kesrick Williams for two huge sixes over cow corner.

Pollard’s innings was the icing on the cake, but it was Bravo who gave him the platform to play it, and between them the pair guided the Knight Riders to a total that proved insurmountable for the Zouks. This is the first time they’ve lost consecutive matches in this year’s CPL and there might be concerns that they are hitting a poor run of form at just the wrong time. They finish their group stage campaign against Jamaica Tallawahs, a team they’ve already lost to once and will be desperate for a win so as not to go into the playoffs off the back of three straight defeats.

No such worries for the Knight Riders, whose inexorable march goes on, despite resting some of their key players. They have the chance to match Guyana Amazon Warriors’ perfect record from 2019 when they take on St Kitts & Nevis Patriots tomorrow and there is little to suggest that the CPL is anything other than theirs to lose.

Patrick Noone is a CricViz analyst

@patnoonecricket

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