St. Lucia Zouks jumped from last place in the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2019 to a playoff spot with a nice 20-run victory over St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground.
The win raises the Zouks to five points and Jamaica Tallawahs and Barbados Tridents to fourth place, while the Patriots remain on eight points after they missed the chance to second place and also guarantee a top-4 result.
While the rug had a good start and a decent finish, the Zouks’ victory was due to a good all-round bowling performance that allowed them to defend a total of 165/6 that did not feel better halfway than par.
The dangerous opener of the Patriots, Evin Lewis, and Devon Thomas, both fell in powerplay – Hardus Viljoen caught Lewis by Chris Barnwell after a ski-pull shot in a rare T20 wicket maiden before a close bowling match kept the hit rate under control held when Laurie Evans and Mohammad Hafeez added 49 for the third goal.
The Zouks already seemed to have the upper hand when the rain with the Patriots 77/2 forced a short delay in the 12th, but really hammered home the advantage.
Kesrick Williams struck twice in the 13th game, deceiving Evans with a slower ball to earn easy catching and bowling before he got Fabian Allen lbw for only 1, and Carlos Brathwaite fell in the next game after joining Fawad Ahmed Sub-fielder Kavem Hodge had driven.
Shamarh Brooks was the second victim of Viljoen. He dropped the ball after crossing a hitherto rare limit, and when Hafeez was fooled in flight, offering a return that Fawad accepted on the second attempt, the Patriots had since lost five wickets for 26 to the resumption.
Rayad Emrit set heroes maximum against Williams and the Zouks briefly lost the frame when some odds failed. Keron Cottoy was involved in a slugfest across the ropes of Fawad, but although the partnership brought 27 runs in 20 balls, it never really got the Patriots within striking distance of the victory. When Emrit was caught long to give Viljoen a deserved third wicket in a spell that cost only 14 runs, the required rate had already risen to four per ball.
Williams took his third wicket of the night in hand, Alzarri Joseph again slowed Colin de Grandhome in the middle of the game, and although Cottoy slammed the last ball of the night for a huge six, the Zouks ran without problems and earned the win.
Previously, they had not managed to take full advantage of a fine powerplay with the bat. In the end, they needed a 56-minute partnership between Sammy and Barnwell to reach 165/6 after having 72/1 after seven overs with Andre Fletcher and Colin Ingram looks good for a huge sum.
The Zouks’ break from this position on 101/5 was largely due to Hafeez and Thomas, who combined superbly to get both bats off their feet.
Both batsmen were guilty of triggering a touch early and gave Hafeez time to make the adjustments he had made properly. For Fletcher, the ball was squeezed onto the side of the leg and skillfully picked up by Thomas, who immediately removed the bails and then two of the stumps to grab his opponent.
It seemed like a big moment when Fletcher, with four fours and two huge hero maxima, looked back on something like his best in his 23-ball 36.
For Ingram, the ball was widely offside, but the result was the same. Hafeez added a third big wicket when de Grandhomme selected Evans at Deep Midwicket.
Joseph was impressive at the top and at the end of the innings when he bowled Rahkeem Cornwall when the big man was just getting rid of himself and Sammy later got hit by Evans for a decisive and cool head. These gates cost only 20 runs.
Barnwell finished unbeaten with 27 of 23 balls after helping Sammy dig the zouks out of a hole.