Bridgetown – It was a disappointing return to Kensington Oval for the Barbados Royals on Wednesday night after a four-year break.
They gave a dismal batting display, falling for a meagre 61 runs to lose by a whopping 133 runs to Trinbago Knight Riders (KPR) in the Republic Bank Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
An estimated crowd of 7 000 spectators filled two-thirds of the venue but left dejected, just before 10 p.m., as the Royals (formerly Tridents), folded in a mere 12.1 overs, just narrowly, going past their lowest CPL score of 59 against the Guyana Amazon Warriors in 2017.
After Andre Russell knocked off the Royals’ top-order with 3-13, Afghanistan’s 21-year-old left-arm wrist spinner Waqar Salamkheil, with support from left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein (2-16) ran through the middle and lower order to finish with career-best T20 figures of 4-14.
Earlier, sent in to bat, the Knight Riders were propelled to a challenging total of 194-5 in their 20 overs by an even, unbeaten century by experienced New Zealand opener Martin Guptill, which was studded with nine sixes and a solitary four off 58 balls.
Guptill and TKR captain Kieron Pollard, who came in at No.4 after key batsman Nicholas Pooran fell for six at 69-2 in the ninth over, featured in a rousing third-wicket stand of 108 runs in just 9.5 overs.
They flayed the Royals’ bowlers, combining for 13 of the 15 sixes struck in the innings with Pollard pummelling four sixes of his own and a four in a measured innings of 46 off 32 balls.
TKR also had a breezy knock of 27 off 19 balls from left-handed opener Mark Deyal, with two sixes and two fours, but picked up the pace from 47-1 at the end of the Power-Play first six overs with 106 runs coming off the last eight overs.
Jason Holder was the best of the Royals bowlers with two for 39 as his West Indies’ teammate in left-arm seamer Obed McCoy was flayed for 47 in his four over.
Afghanistan leg-spinner Qais Ahmad, after conceding 17 in his first three overs while taking a return catch to remove Pooran, was taken for 22 in his final overs, with Guptill launching him for sixes, and Pollard also clearing the boundary.
In reply, the Royals started disastrously as Russell struck twice in his first over with heavy-set Rahkeem Cornwall edging a pull to Dwayne Bravo at slip and Kyle Mayers, trapped LBW, both opening batsmen falling for “golden ducks”.
Russell took a third wicket in his second over when Alick Athanaze mis-timed a pull to Pooran at mid-on, leaving the Royals on three wickets down for a mere five runs.
Holder came in at No.5 and was tested by a couple of short deliveries from Russell, which he pulled disdainfully through mid-wicket for back-to-back boundaries.
But the procession continued as Englishman Laurie Evans was LBW to off-spinner Sunil Narine for five when he missed an ill-advised sweep. Captain Rovman Powell teed off with a six but only made nine as his powerful drive off Salamkheil landed safely in Deyal’s hands inside the long-on boundary.
Holder followed for the top score of 14, edging a cut off Hosein to Bravo at slip while Salamkheil sliced through the middle and lower order.
Kevin Wickham, who was used as make-shift wicket-keeper, pulled a full toss for six over square leg but played on in the same over and was bowled by Salamkheil, who also had Nyeem Young, who didn’t bowl a single delivery when TKR batted, swiftly stumped by Lorcan Tucker for three.
After Hosein trapped Roelof van de merwe LBW for three, the end came when McCoy was caught on the mid-wicket boundary by Pooran, giving Salamkheil his fourth scalp.
Qais was left not out on 10 but had the consolation of hitting a six off Hosein.