DEFENDING CHAMPIONS Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) and the St Kitts/Nevis Patriots will meet in a do-or-die eliminator, in the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) today, from 8 pm, at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba.
The winners of this clash will return to the Tarouba venue on Sunday to face the Guyana Amazon Warriors in the 2018 final.
This game is a rematch of last year’s final, which saw the TKR earning a two-wicket victory, in front of a packed crowd at Tarouba.
Colin Munro, the 31-year-old South African-born New Zealander, has been one of the key performers for the TKR this season. The left-handed batsman is the leading run-scorer in the 2018 tournament with 470 runs, in 11 innings, at an average of 47.0 with five half-centuries.
“It’s been very good,” was how Munro described his season thus far. “Personally, it’s been very good and, as a team, it has been very good.”
The TKR lost a pair of matches earlier this week against the Amazon Warriors at the Providence Stadium to end their six-match winning streak.
On Sunday, the Amazon Warriors won a preliminary round game by six wickets and followed up with a nail-biting two-wicket victory in Tuesday’s play-off.
“We’ve had a bit of a hiccup the last couple of games but we’re in the (eliminator), and anything can happen,” Munro said in an interview at the Hyatt Trinidad, Port of Spain yesterday.
Asked if the home support for the Amazon Warriors proved vital in the TKR last two games, Munro replied, “I don’t want to make excuses but (maybe the pitch). You don’t try to scrum your way to 120. You’ll want to get 130 to 150.
“But you lose a few wickets and that puts you under pressure. So, the conditions weren’t very good for us.” Munro noted that the TKR squad is looking at today’s game just like any other, and not a rematch of last year’s title match.
“We’re just taking it as another game,” he said. “You can’t really focus too much on the opposition. It doesn’t really matter who you play, as long as you keep to your process and playing how you are, that’s all you can do.”
This is Munro’s third season with the TKR, and he admitted that his familiarity with the Caribbean conditions is proving to be an asset this year.
“I’ve taken it to the next level and been more consistent, gotten bigger scores than I have in the past,” he said. “With the backing of the players around you and being settled in an environment, you can go out and play aggressively, and that’s the way I play all the time.
“The team understands that it’s not always going to come off (but) I’ve been given that licence to go out and do that,” Munro added.
With Australian Chris Lynn returning home to prepare for his domestic season, Munro was used as an opener last Friday against the Barbados Tridents (where he made 28) and on Sunday (where he made six).
Asked where he prefers to bat, Munro responded, “Wherever. I’ve batted number three for New Zealand and then I went up the order. For me, it’s just where I can get an opportunity to bat and face as many balls as I can.”
He pointed out that one of the keys to the TKR’s success in 2018 is their retention of the core players of the title-winning squad.
“There were a couple of changes, but we’ve got the (core) group that we had last year, and the year before,” Munro said. “So, we know what people are trying to do, and we’re keeping the same strategies as well. The more we play together, the better we get.”
Pakistan-born bowlers Ali Khan (United States pacer) and Fawad Ahmed (Australian leg-spinner) will likely play their first CPL games at Tarouba.
Munro hopes that the pair will be able to adapt quickly at the Tarouba surface.
“The best thing is that we’ve won four on the road, so we’ve adapted to conditions pretty quickly. Once this surface we see what it’s like, our bowlers and batters are good enough to adapt to it. The team that adapts (faster) will go on to win.”
In related news, the TT Police Service issued a media release yesterday, outlining the traffic and security arrangements for today’s game and the final on Sunday.
According to the media release, there will be no parking on the Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway, from the Gasparillo overpass to the Ste Madeleine/Corinth overpass. Vehicles found in breach of the parking restriction will be towed to the impound lot at Coosals compound, Brian Lara Link Road, Gasparillo.
“While there will be a large contingent of police officers present, motorists are reminded to properly secure their vehicles and to avoid leaving valuables in their vehicles when parked,” the media release said.