Kieron Pollard turned what had looked an uncertain run chase into a canter for Trinbago Knight Riders after the defending champions had been set up for their opening victory in this year’s tournament by Isuru Udana’s career-best five-wicket haul.
It was a good game for left-arm seamers with Mohammad Amir responding with three wickets in his opening spell, but from 38 for 4 in the eighth over Knight Riders were taken to victory by an unbroken stand of 87 in nine overs between Pollard and Denesh Ramdin. The target was hauled into view with a barrage of sixes – the last of them taking Pollard to a 29-ball fifty.
Barbados Royals had made a reasonable start in the Powerplay but things then started to go wrong in the space of consecutive overs from Udana. His first wicket was fortuitous as Johnson Charles was given caught behind pulling only for replays to show it came off the shoulder. Then in four balls of his next over, Udana had Jason Holder and Glenn Phillips caught in the deep to leave Royals 42 for 3.
There was something of a recovery from Shai Hope and Azam Khan before Hope was brilliantly caught by Darren Bravo running in from long-on against the excellent Akeal Hosein. Udana completed the first five-wicket haul of his T20 career when he returned for his last over and had Khan slicing to short third man and his fellow Sri Lankan Thisara Perera held in the deep.
Pollard was also rewarded for aggressive captaincy when Kyle Mayers edged Sunil Narine to slip in the 16th over. In the end Royals were unable to bat out their 20 overs with their last six wickets falling for 19.
They hit back strongly in the Powerplay through Amir who removed Narine first ball, miscuing to mid-off, extracted Lendl Simmons’ middle and leg stumps then had Colin Munro taken at slip when he was cramped by a shorter delivery.
There was some awkward bounce to contend with while the ball was new with Holder and Oshane Thomas causing a number of uneasy moments. The pressure that was built in the first half of the chase resulted in Tim Seifert’s wicket when he top edged to deep square.
At that stage Royals were firmly in the contest, but with such a small target – and Pollard’s ability to change gear – the required rate was never a problem. Royals were also hampered by a loose first over from Hayden Walsh with Holder then not confident to give the legspinner another bowl.
Ramdin, who had taken a thudding blow on the arm guard from Thomas, was content to play second fiddle once Pollard was settled. Amir was brought back for his last over in the 13th to try and conjure a wicket but was seen off and from there Knight Riders did not look back.