Akmal inspires Knight Riders to vital win
With Trinbago Knight Riders staring at the prospect of heading to the final leg of the CPL season in Florida with their playoff hopes in jeopardy, Umar Akmal’s brilliant fightback secured a crucial three-wicket win over St Lucia Zouks to draw Knight Riders level with the Zouks on eight points in a tie for third.
This meant that Barbados Tridents were pushed back to fifth place with two games to play. Akmal struck an unbeaten 73 off 35 balls in Knight Riders’ chase of 168 having dug his side out of a deep hole at 63 for 5 in the 10th over.
Zouks were well placed to defend their total after the fall of Anton Devcich for 25 in the 15th to end a 51-run stand, leaving Knight Riders needing 50 off the last five overs with four wickets in hand. Only four runs were scored in the 16th to further tilt the scales in favour of Zouks but Akmal swung things back Trinbago’s way in the 17th when he targetted Jerome Taylor for three straight sixes and a four, bringing up his fifty off 27 balls. Akmal’s fireworks reduced the equation to 23 off 18 balls.
Shane Watson then pinned Sunil Narine down for three dots, but could not sustain the pressure and Narine ended the over by bashing two sixes to make it 9 off 12 balls. Narine fell in the 19th over but Kevon Cooper hit the winning runs two balls later to clinch victory with six balls to spare.
Having been inserted, Zouks had powered to a strong start with Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher notching 58 in the first seven overs. Charles was fortunate after having been dropped in the first over on 1 off Ronsford Beaton and was reprieved again on 11 in the fourth over when replays showed Devcich had overstepped after having Charles caught by Dwayne Bravo at mid-off.
Fletcher was run-out in the eighth over for 25 and Charles’ luck ran out 10 balls later when Bravo claimed him for 27. From there, Zouks struggled to regain the flow to their innings until Darren Sammy’s arrival in the 16th after Grant Elliott was removed for 12.
Sammy clubbed Cooper for a four and a six in the 18th to spur a late surge, and then bashed two more fours and a six off the final seven balls of Zouks’ innings to finish 37 not out off 18 balls. However, his spectacular form the stadium renamed in his honour could not extend the hosts’ winning run, with Akmal halting it at three games. (ESPNCricinfo)
Caption: Umar Akmal hit seven sixes and three fours during his unbeaten 73 off 35 balls (CPL/Sportsfile)