Patrick Noone analyses Ali Khan’s superb performance at either end of the innings as TKR made it back-to-back wins in the CPL
Being a fast bowler in T20 cricket can often be a thankless task. You’re generally required to bowl at the beginning and end of the innings, the two hardest periods in which to bowl. Either the batsmen are enjoying the luxury the field being up affords them in the Powerplay, or they’re teeing off at the death.
Tonight, Ali Khan was tasked with exactly that ‘top and tail’ task for Trinbago Knight Riders. Two overs in the Powerplay, two at the death against some of the biggest six-hitters in the game – good luck. But the USA international performed the role with aplomb, finishing with figures of 2-25 from his four overs as he helped to restrict Jamaica Tallawahs to 135-8 from their 20 overs.
On a pitch that had soaked up plenty of rain from earlier in the day, there was plenty of seam movement on offer as the ball zipped through during the early exchanges. Khan was skilful enough to get the ball moving both ways off a perfect length and beat the bat of the in-form Glenn Phillips on three occasions in his first two overs, having already removed Chadwick Walton with his second delivery of the match.
A full toss that Phillips helped on its way for six was the only blemish in Khan’s opening burst, while a well-struck four by the same batsman off the last ball of the first over was the last time anyone played a well-timed shot off his bowling. Throughout his spell, Khan found the edge of the bat on four occasions – the most of any bowler in a four-over spell in the tournament so far – and seven further shots were otherwise mis-timed.
When Khan returned for his second spell, he quickly abandoned the line and length strategy that had served him so well in his first two overs, varying his length from short to full and then short again. The Tallawahs were unable to get him away as they rather limped to the end of their innings and Khan rounded off his spell with three perfect yorkers that Ramaal Lewis could only hit for a combined five runs.
It was high class, versatile bowling from the Knight Riders man. He was smart enough to recognise conditions were in his favour early on, talented enough to use them to his advantage before picking up the pieces at the back end of the innings after the spinners had done the bulk of the work in the middle overs.
All in all, it was a complete performance from TKR who made it two wins from two in Tarouba. Their form looks ominous with Sunil Narine putting in another virtuoso display with bat and ball while Colin Munro played a steady hand to get them over the line in the run chase. If players like Ali Khan can continue to step up in the way he did tonight alongside the other stars of the team, and with home advantage as well, it’s hard to see the Knight Riders losing many in this campaign.
Patrick Noone is a CricViz analyst