Trinbago Knight Riders v St Kitts & Nevis Patriots
Thursday 5 September 00.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Trinbago miss Bravo
Trinbago are the holders and have won three of the last four titles. But they are not at full-strength for this one with last season's player of the series, Colin Munro, unavailable due to New Zealand commitments in Sri Lanka.
In his place comes Lendl Simmons for the first three games. Simmons is hugely talented and is probably deserving of a full stint but his up-and-down character probably goes against him.
Of more significance is a finger injury to captain Dwayne Bravo which threatens his involvement in the tournament. Kieron Pollard, having made the switch from the Barbados Tridents, has been handed the captaincy.
Jimmy Neesham, the Kiwi all-rounder, is in town and ready for action. He will be key with Bravo missing. Javon Searles will also have to step up. Khary Pierre could come into the XI as well.
Tough wicket to call
St Kitts are the rags for the tournament at 7/1 with Sportsbook but their record is not too bad. They were runners-up in 2017 and third last year. On each occasion, Trinbago have ended their chances of glory.
They have a strong core of domestic talent which makes them appealing. Evin Lewis is a danger in the opening berth (although he must improve on a terrible return last year), Devon Thomas and Jason Mohammed are solid in the middle order and Carlos Brathwaite is the prerequisite musclebound all-rounder. But they really impress in the pace department. Sheldon Cottrell, Alzarri Joseph and Rayad Emrit could be the best attack in the tournament.
Spin? Ah, now that's the weakness. There is a lot of pressure on Fabian Allen. Leggie Usam Mir has arrived from Karachi Kings and a strike rate of 20 should make him an interesting option.
Tough wicket to call
The last 10 first-innings scores at the Queen's Park Oval (1-2 denote match won by side batting first or second, most recent first) read: 180-1/170-1/203-1/223-2/195-1/118-2/147-2/156-2/152-2/158-2. That's an average of 170. The 2018 wickets, compared to the 2017 ones, were considerably better for batters, though, with Trinbago making that 195 in the first game last term against the Zouks. Chasing was also much easier in 2017.
It's tough to make a strong conclusion other than a watch and wait policy given the differentials. It's good to see Sportsbook offering runs quotes. They go 5/6 over/under Trinbago at 160.5.
Patriots need to go big early
Trinbago, as expected, are favourites to begin their campaign in the same style as they finished the last one. But the [1.57] holds little appeal considering the loss of Munro and Dwayne Bravo. The Patriots are [2.36].
In T20, that's a chunky price, and if we had to bet on this market we'd plump for the outsider simply because we don't believe the gulf is justified. But the Patriots are likely to be a front-running team. They will have to go big with bat and ball early on because, perhaps, the nuance may not be the there – particularly in the field. If they had an international-class spinner we'd be betting them on the outright.
In an ideal world they would bat first, go big and then you can take a position in the break. We suspect Patriots might the sort of team who could struggle to defend if they don't make early breakthroughs.
Two outstanding tops
The fixture list has been kind to punters. In game one it gives us the opportunity to bet two of the best tops options in the tournament. They are Pollard for top Trinbago runscorer and Cottrell for top Patriots wicket-taker. On two-year form Pollard wins this market 26.3% of the time. That makes him a 16/5 chance. Sportsbook go a massive 7/1. It's one of the biggest edges we've seen.
As for Cottrell, he has the best hit rate of any CPL bowler in the market at 46.6% in the last two years. Sportsbook are right to make him favourite at 5/2 but, clearly, that price is not short enough.