After defeating the St. Lucia Zouks in their eighth match of the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) T20 tournament on Tuesday night, the attention of the Trinbago Knight Riders team fell on all rounder Kevon Cooper, who is having work permit issues to play in their next match against the St. Kitts Patriots on Friday night.
As the team was due to leave St. Lucia yesterday evening for Fort Lauderdale, USA, officials were hastily trying to arrange a work permit for Cooper. It is understood that the Queen’s Park player ran afoul of requirements for the visa and TKR was trying to arrange it at the last minute.
Another player who is having problems obtaining a work permit is Pakistani Ahmed Shehzad who is playing for the Barbados Tridents. The team went through their paces at the Central Broward Regional Park yesterday afternoon and the right hander was a noticeable absentee.
Meanwhile, fellow Pakistani Umar Akmal finally came to the CPL party and his timing could not have been better, we he rescued the Trinbago Knight Riders from a precipice of disaster to keep alive their hopes in the 2016 edition of the tournament.
The defending champions were dead and buried at 63/5 in the 11th over going after a victory target of 168. A loss would have taken the TKR to the brink of elimination but Akmal counter-attacked the home team, to score a rapid unbeaten 73, which took them over the line.
Zouks skipper continued to celebrate the naming of the Stadium after him with a top score of 37 not out, to lead his team to a good 167/6 in their 20 overs.
Sammy’s attack then ripped out the top and middle order of the TKR’s batting to leave them half down and over 100 runs still needed for victory. Akmal, whose brother Kamran scored a half century in the finals of the CPL last year, to lead the Red Steel to the title, never gave up and found an ally in New Zealander Anton Devcich to revive the innings. They needed to score at a fast rate, while preserving their wickets and was able to come through. Devcich made 25 and when he left it took the efforts of Sunil Narine to assist Akmal in taking the team over the line. Narine slammed 17 as he supported Akmal who was left with the task of getting 50 runs in the last five fours at the fall of Devcich’s wicket.
With only four runs coming in the 16th over, TKR required 46 runs from four overs. Akmal targeted Jerome Taylor and slapped him for three straight sixes and a four. In the process he raised his half century of 27 balls. A total of 23 runs came from Taylor’s over and the equation was a manageable 23 from 18 balls. Three dot balls followed from Watson but Narine struck two sixes of the last three balls to give TKR a final decisive advantage. Akmal remained unbeaten on 73 of 35 balls with three fours and seven sixes.