Trinbago Knight Riders put the disappointment of their Playoff defeat to Guyana Amazon Warriors behind them with a 20-run semi-final win over St Kitts & Nevis Patriots.
Leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed saw the Knight Riders comfortably defend a target of 166 and set up a rematch with the Warriors in the CPL final. The Warriors have won their last two games against the Knight Riders but the clash in the finals will now matter the most.
The Knight Riders spinners, Sunil Narine and Fawad Ahmed shared five wickets between themselves and proved almost impossible to get away, while even part-timer Colin Ingram made a telling contribution with the hugely important wicket of Devon Thomas, who had put the Patriots in a strong early position with 44 off 35 balls.
Ali Khan, a revelation with the new ball this season, snaffled the dangerous Chris Gayle with a perfect delivery to find his outside edge and send the big man back to the pavilion without scoring.
Narine and Fawad got the wickets their efforts deserved when Rassie van der Dussen chipped a return catch to Narine off a leading edge and Evin Lewis sent a slog-sweep off Fawad steepling high into the Trinidad sky to be well caught on the run by Colin Munro when it finally came back down.
Brandon King made a quick-fire 33 from 22 but he became Narine’s second victim, getting his stumps rattled in an attempt to clear mid-wicket.
Ali Khan returned to ramp up the pressure, giving up just six singles in the 15th over as the required rate climbed to 14.
The target had now reached 65 from just four overs for the Patriots, and despite the best efforts of Fabian Allen (32* off 19) and Carlos Brathwaite (16 from 14) in a 45-run partnership but some quality death bowling from Ali Khan, Dwayne Bravo and Kevon Cooper saw the Knight Riders home.
Earlier on, after being put in to bat, the Knight Riders put on 165/6 on the board as Brendon McCullum did most of the damage with the bat.
New Zealand legend McCullum was initially watchful, reaching just 10 from 13 balls in the Power Play before expanding his game in the next overs. He hit three Maximums as he hammered 33 from his next 12 balls before misjudging a full delivery from Chris Gayle to be trapped plumb leg before wicket.
Colin Munro made a steady 29, while Ramdin added 27 not out from 25 at the end of the innings. But Dwayne Bravo was the man responsible for lifting the score beyond 160 as he continued his remarkable hitting form in this season’s CPL.
Sheldon Cottrell was the pick of the bowlers as he conceded 24 runs of his full quota and picking up two wickets of Ingram and Darren Bravo.
Fawad Ahmed was declared man of the match for his extraordinary bowling performance.