People like Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Nicholas Pooran and Dwayne Bravo will not in the CPL 2022 final. The star-studded Trinbago Knight Riders and St Kitts & Nevis Patriots, the 2021 CPL champions and the inaugural 6ixty winners were the first two teams to be eliminated this year. Who would think? Kyle Mayers’ Barbados Royals and Rovman Powell’s Jamaica Tallawahs are the only two teams standing now, with the title up for grabs.
Royals, who finished bottom last season, made their way to the final, losing just two of the 11 games they have played to date. One of those losses was in an insignificant game for them against Guyana Amazon Warriors and the other a rain-hit fight against Tallawahs, where Powell hit a timely six to put them ahead of the DLS line. The fact that Royals have dominated the tournament despite the absence of their regular captains David Miller and Quinton de Kock for the final leg in Guyana has made their run even more remarkable.
The Royals franchise in the IPL (Rajasthan) fell at the last hurdle earlier this year, but Barbados has a chance to do even better and perhaps lay the groundwork for a new CPL dynasty. Their opponents, Tallawahs, had a less straight forward path to the championship game, but it’s worth noting that the last two times they’ve come this far, they won the entire game.
Powell’s men had set the early pace in 2022, along with the Royals, with three wins in their first four games, but slowed down in the Trinidad and Guyana stages of the tournament. After knocking out Faf du Plessis’ St. Lucia Kings and Shimron Hetmyer’s Amazon Warriors, Tallawahs have once again picked up pace.
Gradually they have learned to live without Russell, with Imad Wasim, Mohammad Nabi and Powell doing the work for them with bat and ball. Tallawahs looked top heavy in the first half of the tournament, but Nabi’s late arrival helped them balance their XI. While local opener Kennar Lewis has yet to shoot as he can, Brandon King and Shamarh Brooks have shown attacking entrepreneurship at the top.
Brooks is more of an ODI-style white-ball player, but on Wednesday he drove his luck and made his way to a 52-ball 109 not out – an innings that Tallawah’s assistant coach Curtly Ambrose had quite animated. After joining the squad as a substitute in 2021, Brooks played a heroic knock in second qualifier on Wednesday and showed he could cut it in T20 cricket too.
While Tallawahs’ strikes didn’t always go well, their bowling attack certainly did, with Mohammad Amir and Imad taking 16 wickets each.
Barbados Royals WLWWL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Jamaica Tallawahs WWLLW
In the spotlight
Obed McCoy had some problems with his rhythm and run in the first half of the season but he still found ways to take wickets. He can reach speeds north of 140 km/h with the new ball and also slow down on death. Jason Holder is so impressed with McCoy that he thinks the left arm seam could be “unstoppable” if he continues to develop his skills.
Imad Wasim is not on Pakistan’s side due to fitness, but he remains an ever-present in Tallawah’s lineup. Along with Powell, Wasim was part of the Tallawahs side that last won the title six years ago. Can he do it again, this time with a new team? The left-handed spinner has been his usual stingy self with the ball and can shift the order to reject favorable opposition matchups. His heady, uninterrupted 103 run score with Brooks in second qualifier is one of the highlights of the season.
Royals will likely play an unaltered XI in the final, though they have South African seam bowling all-rounder Corbin Bosch on the bench.
Barbados Royals (probably): 1 Kyle Mayers (capt), 2 Rahkeem Cornwall, 3 Harry Tector, 4 Azam Khan, 5 Najibullah Zadran, 6 Devon Thomas (wk), 7 Jason Holder, 8 Mujeeb Ur Rahman, 9 Obed McCoy, 10 Hayden Walsh Jr, 11 Ramon Simmonds
Amir sustained a groin injury during the second qualifier and threw only 11 balls. If he doesn’t recover in time, Tallawahs could consider bringing in South African speedy Migael Pretorius.
Jamaica Tallawahs (probably): 1 Brandon King, 2 Kennar Lewis (wk), 3 Shamarh Brooks, 4 Rovman Powell (capt), 5 Imad Wasim, 6 Fabian Allen, 7 Raymon Reifer, 8 Mohammad Nabi, 9 Chris Green, 10 Nicholson Gordon, 11 Mohammad Amir/Migael Pretorius
Location and conditions
Providence is usually slow and conductive to run, but this season it has also helped in stroke play. Four of the top five totals in CPL 2022 were made there, including the first 200.