Patrick Noone analyses how Fawad Ahmed helped bowl TKR to a perfect 10
In perhaps the most predictable result of the whole CPL season, Trinbago Knight Riders ran out comfortable winners over a wretched St Kitts & Nevis Patriots side and finished their group stage campaign with ten wins from ten. The Knight Riders set up their victory with a fine bowling performance, dismissing the Patriots for 77 with ten balls of the innings remaining without conceding a single four.
TKR fed the Patriots a diet predominantly consisting of spin, with seamer Ali Khan only coming on for the first time in the 13th over. Every bowler picked up at least one wicket, but it was Fawad Ahmed who was the outstanding performer in the attack, finishing with figures of 4-21 from his four overs.
Fawad drew a false shot with 29% of the balls he bowled, the highest percentage of any bowler to complete their allocation in the match. He was a threat throughout, using his googly sparingly but effectively, most notably when trapping Imran Khan LBW to give him his second wicket.
Earlier, Fawad had seen the back of the dangerous Ben Dunk when the left-hander attempted a reverse sweep that skewed to short third man where Pravin Tambe took an exceptional diving catch. It was an unusual dismissal for Fawad – Dunk’s shot was only the 42nd time a batsman had attempted a reverse sweep against him in his T20 career and this was the first time he’d dismissed anyone playing the shot.
Fawad finished his spell in style, bowling Rayad Emrit – albeit slightly fortuitously – with another googly, and then having Colin Archibald stumped two balls later thanks to some sharp glovework from Tim Seifert. It was the first time Fawad had picked up four wickets in a CPL match and it was just reward for the way one of TKR’s most reliable performers bowled.
The run chase that followed the Patriots’ collapse was little more than a procession, but it nonetheless offered even more encouragement for TKR as Tion Webster and Amir Jangoo both made significant contributions, albeit with minimal pressure. If fit, one would expect Sunil Narine to return for semi-final along with Dwayne Bravo who was rested for this match, but the Knight Riders have shown time and time again that even their fringe players are capable of stepping up if the big guns aren’t there.
TKR’s win put the Patriots’ season out of its misery as they slumped to an eighth defeat in a forgettable campaign. As an indicator of how much they’ve struggled to nail the balance and the combinations of their team this season, this was the only time they went into a match with an unchanged XI and in total they made 20 team changes across the season. That’s the same number as TKR who have been rotating heavily owing to the luxury of qualifying for the knockout phase with games to spare.
It will be interesting to see exactly what changes TKR make in their semi-final against Jamaica Tallawahs on Tuesday. Colin Munro remains an injury doubt and they will likely have to leave out at least one of Akeal Hosein, Khary Pierre and Pravin Tambe, despite all of them performing well when called upon. All nice problems to have, and the only certainty is that whoever they pick will take some beating.
Patrick Noone is a CricViz analyst