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Semi-final 1 – Trinbago Knight Riders v Jamaica Tallawahs

Patrick Noone analyses how Akeal Hosein fired TKR to another CPL final

There’s been an inevitability about Trinbago Knight Riders run to the final in this year’s CPL. Right from the very first match of the competition, they have looked like the squad with the most balance, depth and skill of the six teams competing. After a convincing semi-final win over Jamaica Tallawahs, they are one match away from completing a perfect season.

Akeal Hosein didn’t play in the first half of their campaign. Since then though, the left-arm spinner has been an ever present and his three wickets today brought his tally to nine for the season – only Fawad Ahmed has more for TKR in this campaign.

Hosein was tasked with bowling the first over of the innings for the fifth match in succession as Kieron Pollard correctly identified a positive matchup between him and the Tallawahs’ right-handed batsmen. The decision paid off as Hosein struck in the first over, just as he did the last time the two sides met a week ago. On that occasion it was Chadwick Walton who departed, today Jermaine Blackwood was beaten by the quicker one that skidded on to his stumps.

The Tallawahs made the surprise decision to promote Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman to number 3 and the Afghan was the next to fall to Hosein when he attempted a reverse sweep but failed to make a clean connection, allowing Dwayne Bravo to take a diving catch from gully. At that stage, Hosein had bowled ten balls and the Tallawahs had only been able to score off two of them.

Hosein was given a third over in the Powerplay for the second game in succession and was rewarded with a third wicket as Asif Ali slapped him straight to cover. It was Hosein’s sixth Powerplay wicket of the season, a tally only bettered by Chris Green, Mujeeb and Mohammad Nabi of spinners in this year’s competition. For Hosein to be rubbing shoulders with names such as those, three of the finest Powerplay spinners on the T20 circuit, speaks volumes as to how well he’s performed at the top of the innings.

Hosein’s efforts helped TKR restrict the Tallawahs to just 107-7 from their 20 overs. It was a meagre target and one which meant the Knight Riders had only conceded 184 runs across their last two completed matches. Although, it might have been different had Andre Russell not been given out off the bowling of Sunil Narine despite the ball passing through several centimetres from his glove.

However, one grievance – no matter how legitimate – should not mask what was a poor day for the Tallawahs and one that concluded a disappointing campaign. The balance of their batting lineup has always looked lopsided and the folly of not including a single left-hander in their XI was badly exposed by Hosein, Khary Pierre and Fawad Ahmed who all naturally take the ball away from the right-hander.

So, TKR will take up their place in Thursday’s final and will be keeping a keen eye on this evening’s match to see whether they will face Guyana Amazon Warriors or St Lucia Zouks. They will of course be fearing nobody at this stage and will go into the final as clear favourites, irrespective of who they play.

Patrick Noone is a CricViz analyst

@patnoonecricket

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