CPL Associate Watch, Day 15: Ali returns, Kirton and Sandeep feature.

TKR end the round robin portion of the season 10-0 (Photo: CPL)

Ali Khan was back in the action for TKR, as they made short work of St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots. Nicholas Kirton and Sandeep Lamichhane were bright spots in the Tallawahs loss to St. Lucia Zouks.

Ali Khan
TKR bowler Ali Khan of USA (Photo: CPL)

After missing the last four games with what appeared to be a minor back injury, Ali Khan was back slinging the rock on the final day of the round robin portion of CPL 2020. TKR started with spinners and got quick results, bowling drifting deliveries from ball one, ending the powerplay with SKN stifled at 27/2. Ali wouldn’t come into the attack until the spin assault of Akeal Hosein, Sikander Raza, Fawad Ahmed and Pravin Tambe had ravaged SKN 52/5 after 12.

As Ali has a tendency to do, he struck early. After a single to Ramdin and another to Emrit, Ali hit a spot that he’s found success with this season; back of length, 5th stump line, and Ramdin didn’t get enough of it. Caught at long on by Darren Bravo, Ramdin’s day was done, 19 off 18. After two more singles, Emrit stepped across the stumps and hit a back of length delivery for six behind square for some minor vengeance, and Ali finished the over with a wicket and 10 runs to his name.

After four more overs yielded 14 runs at the cost of 3 wickets, Ali came back into the attack to try and finish off the tail. Only a Leg Bye prevented a shutout over, but Ali ended the day 2-10-1, and looked ready to go for the playoffs. Knight Riders would go on to chase down the paltry 77 run Patriots total by 9 wickets in 11.3 overs to remain unbeaten heading into the playoffs.

Sandeep Lamichhane, Nepal and Jamaica Tallawahs (Photo: CPL)

Jamaica took on St Lucia in another dead rubber, but you can bet the Tallawahs wanted to hit the playoffs on a high note against the higher finishing Zouks. Back into the lineup today after seven games was Canada’s Nicholas Kirton, joining the reliable Sandeep Lamichhane.

Zouks batted first, and were 42/2 after 7 when Sandeep Lamichhane entered the attack, following Carlos Brathwaite. Earlier in the powerplay, Mujeeb Ur Rahman picked up his first wicket in 3 games, and V Permaul had allowed only 6 runs in his two overs, so the spinners were already clicking. Sandy would ensure that trend continues with the final ball of the 8th. After being blasted dead straight on the fifth ball on full delivery well wide of the off stump, Sandy came back strong with the sixth ball. Again wide of off stump, Sandy gave this googly some extra revs, and it dipped quickly and turned back hard to knock back Cornwall’s leg stump. Zouks ended the over 53/3.

Coming back in during the 11th, now from the opposite end, Sandy put the clamp down on the Zouks, giving up only a single on the first ball to Roston Chase, as Najibullah found himself nailed to the crease for the next five balls. Staying on in the 13th, it was Roston’s turn on Sandy Island. Facing a variety of leg break and googly deliveries pitching on sixth stump, Roston Chase was beaten twice by Sandy, but neither appeal for edge or LBW held up. The Tallawahs were happy to settle for the maiden over and keep the pressure on.

After Mujeeb got dinked around for 8, Sandy came back in for the 15th over on fire, having given up only 8 runs from three overs with a wicket and a maiden. Sadly, the 15th wouldn’t go so well, proving to be one of his most expensive overs in the tournament. Najibullah got lucky on the third ball, bottom edging a reverse sweep attempt between the keeper’s legs and running away for four. Two balls later, Najibullah would get a little more than lucky, reverse sweeping a leg-line delivery for six to deep backward point on the short side of the ground. After the 12 run over, Sandy ended his day with team best figures of 4-1-20-1.

Nicholas Kirton, Canada and Jamaica Tallawahs (Photo: CPL)

After St. Lucia ended their innings with the aid of 8 extras in the final two overs, Jamaica found themselves chasing 145/6. Judging by the history in this tournament chasing any similar score, Nicholas Kirton was likely see time in the middle.

Eleven full overs into the chase, Jamaica looked well on their way to victory with their score at 78/0. Four quick wickets in the next 3 overs brought Nicholas Kirton to the middle, coming in to a Hat Trick ball from the dangerous Zahir Khan with Jamaica at 91/4. Facing a very aggressive field, Kirton got a little lucky and Zahir delivers the ball a bit too full and wide, and it’s safely driven through the covers for two.

Kirton stayed composed through three more Tallawah wickets, scoring 7 off of 7 heading into the 18th over. After trading singles with Mujeeb, Kirton finally got a delivery to put away. Striding back and across off stump at the last moment with a wide, open base, Kirton anticipated the wider and fuller delivery from Nabi and slogged it deep for six to midwicket. With Kirton taking the same approach on his next ball, Nabi burned one in from a wider angle of release, quicker and right at fourth stump, which was now directly under the nose of Kirton. Clearly a difficult ball to handle, Kirton fought it off and got just enough of it to find the straight boundary.

Needing 24 from the final 12, Kirton would need to keep up this attitude against Kesrick Williams in the 19th. After a single on the first ball from Mujeeb, and zero on the second ball from Kirton, Kesrick would put one on a tee, a wide full toss that Kirton shuffled over to and easily got under to for six to long off. A near yorker at Kirton’s back heel follows for the fourth ball with no run scored. On the fifth ball, Kesrick slows one down, and it dips while Kirton backs away and the ball beats the lunging batsman hitting middle stump. Kirton ended his innings bowled, 25 from 15, but showed signs of catching on to the format at this level. Jamaica was left needing 17 from 7 with only two wickets in hand, and Lamichhane would get out on the very next ball, caught at long on.

Falling short of a reasonable chase by 11 runs, the Tallawahs will look toward Tuesday to get their batting in order when they take on Ali Khan and the Trinbago Knight Riders in the semifinal. The game will be the biggest showdown between Associate players in the tournament thus far.

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