The last time Barbados Royals finished in the Top 2 of the points table, they went on to win the CPL trophy. That was in 2019. It was their second title. The following two seasons saw the team languishing at the bottom, a sight that was heartbreaking to watch for their fans. But this year, with a strong core group and a host of match-winners in their ranks, the Royals scripted a turnaround to remember. With consistent performances across all departments, they dominated their way to the top of the table and stayed put. And with 8 wins in 10 games, they became the first ones to qualify for the CPL 2022 playoffs.
Now, all that lies between the Royals and a deserving spot in the finale is Qualifier 1, where they are set to take on the Guyana Amazon Warriors. A win will take them straight to their 4th CPL final.
CPL 2022: Qualifier 1 - Guyana Amazon Warriors vs Barbados Royals
Providence Stadium, Guyana
10:00 AM local time
When it comes to the knockout stages, the Royals are the second-best team in CPL, having won 3 of their 7 playoff matches so far. The Warriors have been one of their strongest rivals, leading the head-to-head tally with 14 wins in 21 T20s. But despite the numbers game not particularly in their favour, the Royals' current form makes them the team to beat this season.
So, what has worked for the Royals this time around?
Flexibility in batting
With 1508 runs, the Royals are leading the batting charts this season. The power-packed opening combination of Kyle Mayers and Rahkeem Cornwall has worked wonders, with a strong middle order that has stepped up when required. One of the strengths of this batting unit has been the flexibility it offers, with Quinton de Kock being the biggest example. The Protea keeper-batter played the opener's role to perfection in the absence of Rahkeem, striking his maiden CPL fifty as well. And when Rahkeem returned, Quinton was slotted down the order, where he continued to contribute significantly. From Corbin Bosch's fireworks to David Miller's finishing touches, the Royals' batting line-up has continued to produce a match-winner in every game. And on a rare day when the top and the middle order have misfired, Azam Khan and Jason Holder's teamwork lower down the order has kept the Royals' ship moving forward.
Another aspect that has really helped the Royals' batting attack is their performances in the Powerplay. Mayers and Cornwall's blazing starts have often laid a solid foundation for the rest of the team to build on.
The all-rounders' club
In Corbin Bosch, Kyle Mayers and Jason Holder, the Royals have excellent all-rounders who can adapt and deliver according to the situation. Apart from his explosive batting skills and wicket-taking abilities, Corbin's athleticism provides a huge boost to this side that has collectively bagged 51 catches this season - the most by any team. Mayers has been sensational, not just with bat and ball but also as a leader in the absence of regular captain Miller. His calm and composed style of captaincy, along with a sounding board in the experienced Jason Holder, has ensured every player focuses on the task at hand with freedom.
Variety in bowling
The bowling attack isn't too far behind, having picked 72 wickets in the season - also the most by any team in CPL 2022. 30 of them came from the pace duo of Holder and Obed McCoy, who have taken the joint-most scalps for the Royals. Bad weather and rains regularly played spoilsport, particularly in the day games. But with a variety of spinners, medium pacers and quicks in their arsenal, the Royals packed a punch in the wickets column and put the opposition under pressure. Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who arrived in the second half of the tournament, instantly made an impact with his miserly spells and quick wickets.
Player battle to watch
Mujeeb Ur Rahman vs Shimron Hetmyer:
The Warriors batter has faced Mujeeb in 4 innings and has been dismissed by him on three occasions. An explosive batter, Shimron has managed to score only 11 runs off the Afghan spinner so far. With the all-important berth in the final up for grabs, it will be interesting to see the strategy both players adopt in this contest that has all the makings of a nail-biter.
• Jason Holder needs 2 more for 100 sixes in T20s
• Kyle Mayers is 10 short of 1500 T20 runs
• Rahkeem Cornwall needs 31 for 1000 runs in CPL