There were hiccups along the way, but Trinbago Knight Riders eventually prevailed against St Kitts & Nevis Patriots in a low-scoring thriller to cap of an eventful season of the Caribbean Premier League with their second title triumph on Saturday (September 9). In a season that lasted a little over four weeks, big totals were made, bigger ones were polished off; fours and sixes were staple while bowlers had their day in the sun too.
At the end of 34 matches, Dwayne Bravo’s side emerged victorious, but along the way came several notable performances from all over.
Here’s our team of the season.Chadwik Walton (Guyana Amazon Warriors – 458 runs in 12 innings)The 31-year-old opening batsman topped the batting charts for the season, while being at his devastating best. Walton smashed three fifties in the tournament, including two whirlwind knocks of 92 (57 balls) and 84 not out (40 balls). What set him apart from others was the boundary-hitting frequency. The explosive batsman smashed 37 fours (second-best in the season) and 24 sixes (third-best in the season). His fiery starts went a long way in pushing Guyana Amazon Warriors forward till the second qualifier, where they lost to the eventual champions.
Evin Lewis (St Kitts & Nevis Patriots – 376 runs in 11 innings)The left-hander pips his captain Chris Gayle in our list. Another fear-inducing big-hitter, Lewis hit the best tally of sixes in the tournament (31), including 11 in a single innings where he smashed a 32-ball 97. It was in a chase of 129, where Lewis and Gayle earned the finalists a 10-wicket win, with Gayle only making 22 runs. Lewis’s potency was also evident in his unmatched strike rate of 184.57. The 25-year-old hit three fifties and played a pivotal role in his team’s journey to the final.
Dwayne Smith (Barbados Tridents – 349 runs in 10 innings)Barbados Tridents finished second from the bottom with only four wins, but Smith proved to be one of the best entertainers of the season to earn his spot in the XI, albeit at No. 3. Tridents may not have gone too far, but Smith went the furthest as far as individual brilliance was concerned. Before Walton unleashed his 57-ball 92, it was Smith that enthralled the fans that day in Guyana. Smith scored a 70-ball century, lacing the innings with 10 fours and 5 sixes. Eleven days later, Smith breached the three-figure score once again – this time hitting 103 off 65 balls (with 5 fours and 8 sixes) to guide Tridents to a win over St Lucia Stars.
Colin Munro (Trinbago Knight Riders – 366 runs in 13 innings)The New Zealander essayed the responsibility of either opening the batting or playing one-drop to quite a good effect as he scored three fifties in the tournament and eased the pressure on the middle order. Munro’s efficiency at No.3 also allowed the Knight Riders to experiment with Sunil Narine as the throw-bat-at-everything sort of an opener, something he pulled off with some success in the IPL for the Kolkata Knight Riders. In the CPL however, Narine hardly found success, putting the onus on Munro to chip in and shield the side from collapses, which he did quite well. Munro finished fourth on the batting charts this season including a stroke-filled, unbeaten 70 (5 fours and 5 sixes).
Kumar Sangakkara (Jamaica Tallawahs – 379 runs in 11 innings)The Sri Lankan who refuses to age or let his batting prowess deteriorate finished the season as the second-highest scorer. The soon-to-be-40-year-old hit just 10 sixes through the season, but there was no sign of decline in those booming drives through covers and cuts past square as he recorded the most number of fours (40). With four half-centuries in his last five games, Sangakkara also gave a detailed demonstration of what consistency looked like. Between the whites of Surrey and the green, black and yellow of the Tridents, the veteran Sri Lankan hit a patch as purple as ever. In the eliminator, Tridents needed Sangakkara’s unbeaten 38-ball 57 to recover from a top-order collapse and post a respectable total, which the Guyana Amazon Warriors ended up chasing down.
Brendon McCullum (Trinbago Knight Riders – 335 runs in 10 innings)Before a hand injury brought an early end to Brendon McCullum’s campaign, the swashbuckling New Zealander was sending balls flying in typical fashion. McCullum scored at a strike rate of 165.84 in the 10 innings, hitting 24 fours and 25 sixes. McCullum smashed three half-centuries, including a blazing 62-ball 91, that included 5 fours and 6 sixes, and powered the Tridents to 208 for 6 against Jamaica Tallawahs. In a rain-hit group-stage game against their eventual final opponents – St Kitts & Nevis Patriots – McCullum’s unbeaten 40 and a key partnership with Dwayne Bravo helped the side offset the impact of Gayle’s fiery 93.
Dwayne Bravo (Trinbago Knight Riders – 247 runs & 16 wickets in 13 innings)The West Indian all-rounder made a fine comeback from a long injury hiatus, that kept him out of the IPL, to lead his side to title glory. Bravo’s batting may have warranted much improvement, but his 16 wickets proved to be quite crucial to the fate of the side in the tournament. Even though his only four-wicket haul in the tournament came in a losing cause (against St Kitts & Nevis Patriots in the Qualifier), Bravo’s contributions through the group-stage was enough to put him second on the list of highest wicket-takers for the season.
Rashid Khan (Guyana Amazon Warriors – 14 wickets in 12 innings)A hat-trick, an economy rate of 5.82 and the fifth position on the bowling charts – the youngster from Afghanistan continues to bamboozle batsmen with his hurried action and a lot of mystery. Rashid bagged a hat-trick with three googlies in the game that sent title-holders Jamaica Tallawahs out of the tournament.
If there is a player retention policy and if Sunrisers Hyderabad don’t hold on to him, be rest assured that several suitors will fight for the services of the promising young man.
Shadab Khan (Trinbago Knight Riders – 12 wickets in 8 innings)Another young leggie from the Knight Riders made it to the team, at the expense of the very experienced Sunil Narine. Narine finished with better economy rate, but Shadab picked up the same number of wickets (12) after having played five innings lesser than the former. Shadab was also up there in terms of being a stingy bowler – ending with an economy rate of 5.75.
Rayad Emrit (Guyana Amazon Warriors – 15 wickets in 12 innings)The 36-year-old medium pacer, and Guyana’s captain, took the third spot on the wicket-takers list with 15 scalps, including a four-wicket haul in a victory over St Lucia Stars in the early stages of the tournament.
Sohail Tanvir (Guyana Amazon Warriors – 17 wickets in 12 innings)The Pakistan pacer was the standout bowler of the tournament, and the only one to bag a fifer. Tanvir was fulcrum of his side’s massive 99-run victory against Barbados Tridents, when he finished with astonishing bowling figures of 5 for 3, the most economical figures in T20 history.
Special Mention: Kevon Cooper (Trinbago Knight Riders)Cooper’s batting contributions may have flown under the radar, but on Sunday, he played the most important innings of the season worthy of special mention. The tall all-rounder didn’t just steer his team clear of an unimaginable collapse in a small chase of the CPL final, but also held his nerve and took the team over the line for their second CPL title.
With 22 to get from 12 balls, Chris Gayle turned to the experienced Ben Hilfenhaus to turn the screws. But Cooper ensured his and Denesh Ramdin’s efforts of dragging the game till the very end from a dire position of 90 for 7 wouldn’t go in vain. Cooper was on 12 for 9 when Ramdin turned the strike over with 21 to get off 12. Hilfenhaus bowled two wides and followed it up short ball that fetched a couple of runs for the Knight Riders. The equation was down to 17 off 10 balls. Right then, Hilfenhaus erred and Cooper swiftly punished him – a waist high full toss sent sailing over point for a six. The free-hit ball – length delivery outside off – was dispatched to the fence for a four as victory was starting to seem inevitable. Another short ball fetched the second four of the over, two balls after which Ramdin hit the winning runs. Cooper finished on an unbeaten 14-ball 29 that sealed the game in favour of the chasers.
The post-victory scenes of him in tears and in the arms of captain Bravo gave the entertaining season a fitting final frame.