TAROUBA, Trinidad – A 14-ball onslaught from hometown boy Kevon Cooper gave Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) the final push for an incredible, three-wicket, come-from-behind victory that spoiled St Kitts & Nevis Patriots’s dream of a maiden Caribbean Premier League title on Saturday.
Cooper, later named Player of the Match, waylaid Sheldon Cottrell and Ben Hilfenhaus in spectacular fashion during the closing stages of the final before a packed Brian Lara Cricket Academy, to drive the Knight Riders over the finish line with an over remaining.
The Patriots seem to have one hand on the title when they reduced TKR to 90 for seven with the home team still needing 28 from the final 13 deliveries, but Cooper gave cogent proof that where there is life, there is hope, to ensure that Dwayne Bravo’s side clinched the trophy for a second time.
He started a sequence of seven balls that changed the outcome of the match with a six-over extra cover off the final delivery of the 18th over, bowled by Cottrell.
A single for Denesh Ramdin off the first delivery of the following over from Hilfenhaus got him back on strike, and the retired Australia fast bowler bowled two wides outside offstump to leave the Knight Riders needing 19 from 11 balls.
Cooper was restricted to two from the next delivery from Hilfenhaus thanks to Mohammad Nabi’s diving stop at midwicket, but the next ball was a gift for the Trinbago all-rounder — a full toss — and he smashed it over cover for a boundary that was also signalled as a no-ball.
Cooper slashed the free hit over backward point for another boundary, and he made it a hat-trick of boundaries when he slammed Hilfenhaus again over the leg side before Ramdin creeped TKR over the line with a single two balls later in a dramatic finish.
Earlier, batting again proved the undoing of the Patriots, after they were put in to bat on an easy-paced pitch.
West Indies Twenty20 captain Carlos Brathwaite hit the top score of 30, batting at seven, and his left-handed cousin and fellow Barbadian Jonathan Carter made 21, but no other batsman reached 20 including maestro Chris Gayle, whose acquisition in the off season was for this exact purpose.
Gayle made one from seven balls before Javon Searles had him caught at backward point in the second over to signal it would be a tough night for visitors, whose chances dipped dramatically when the same bowler had Pakistani Mohammad Hafeez caught at mid-off in the fourth over and young batting tyro Evin Lewis lbw to Sunil Narine in the eighth over.
Patriots were 37 for three and Cooper started his claims for the Player of the Match prize with the wickets of Brandon King and Devon Thomas in successive overs, as the visitors stumbled to 65 for five in the 13th over.
Brathwaite came to the wicket and put on 49 with Carter for the sixth wicket, collecting 23 from the final over with Mohammad Nabi to give the Patriots a respectable, if not impregnable total.
Left-arm fast bowler Cottrell gave the Pats a brilliant start to their defence when he cleaned up Sunil Narine and Dwayne Bravo in the space of three balls in the second over.
Colin Munro got TKR moving before he was caught at long-off to become the first of two wickets for Hafeez.
His dismissal triggered a slump that saw five wickets fall for 42 in the space of 48 deliveries before Cooper came to burst Patriots’s bubble in an unbroken stand of 46 with Ramdin.