If Evin Lewis brings the form he brought to Saturday’s penultimate St Kitts and Nevis Patriots game at Warner Park in St Kitts to Wednesday’s CPL 2021 final, new champions will be crowned.
And thanks to a lacklustre showing by Kieron Pollard’s Trinbago Knight Riders in the late game on Saturday, there is already a good chance that the final will be a repeat of the Saturday affair—at least in terms of who the protagonists will be.
Lewis hit an unbeaten 102, his fifth T20 century, as his team chased down the decent 160 target TKR had set them. It contained no fewer than 11 sixes—taking his season tally to 30—and five fours and came off a mere 52 balls.
Of the six bowlers Pollard used in an attempt to staunch the free flow of boundaries, only one, Sunil Narine, escaped unscathed.
Ali Khan, on whose return to the TRK line-up, he registered impressive 4/6 bowling figures versus Jamaica Tallawahs, had no answer, his three overs yielding 54 runs, including 22 in his second, over #6.
The usually miserly Akeal Hosein bowled only two overs, and was taken for 20, two more than leg-spinner Yasir Shah who, given his first run-out of the season, delivered the same number.
Skipper Pollard who, as captain of the Barbados Tridents in 2017, denied Lewis the possibility of his first CPL century by bowling a no-ball to end the game, had no answers either with the ball, his only over costing 20 runs.
As captain too, he had no answers, the rules allowing Narine to bowl no more than four overs and no one else looking even remotely able to stop the haemorrhage.
Lewis peppered the boundaries on leg and off, preferring to clear them rather than merely reach them. When he was on 29, he pulled Pollard’s first ball to Hosein on the mid-wicket boundary but the left-hander, normally very reliable in the field, grassed the chance.
Lewis made his team rue the mistake, staying around long enough to take his tally of runs for the season to almost 350. His unbroken third wicket partnership with Ravi Bopara yielded 85 runs, Bopara contributing seven of them.
Lewis opening partner, Chris Gayle, celebrating his surprise selection for the T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman in October/November, shared a 67-run partnership with Lewis, his contribution a quick-fire 35 off 18 balls. He too got two early lives, the first an easy one to Darren Bravo on the point boundary
Pollard, sprinting back from mid-off, also made a valiant attempt to catch him. Although he somehow contrived to get his hands to the difficult chance, the ball escaped his grasp as he flew through the air and it ran into the boundary cushion.
Gayle eventually fell at 67 for 1, flaying at Khan and getting a thick edge through to wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin. In came Devon Thomas, replaced by Joshua da Silva during the TKR innings after being struck a painful blow on the kneecap. Pollard sent him quickly back to join the left-handed opener, Colin Munro taking a good low catch at deep mid-wicket.
Once again, Munro (47 off 34 balls) had been the rock on which the TKR innings was built once STKN skipper Dwayne Bravo, returning to the side after being injured out for the three games his team lost, won the toss. Neither Lendl Simmons nor fellow opener Ramdin looked particularly interested in gradually accumulating runs and both perished swinging for the hills.
DJ Bravo (22 off 22) and Munro added exactly 50 for the third wicket before John-Russ Jaggesar (3/32) breached Bravo’s defence to leave TKR on 78 for 3 in the 11th over.
Four overs later, Munro and Pollard fell to Jaggesar off consecutive balls. After that, only Narine, who remained unbeaten on 33 off 18 balls, looked as if he was genuinely interested in advancing the cause of the defending champions, who finished on 159 for 7.
At the halfway mark, Dominic Drakes (3/33), who took the catch to dismiss Ramdin and claimed Simmons, Tim Seifert and Hosein, looked for all the world like he would be the Man-of-the-Match.
Until Lewis took a liking to the TKR bowling on the day.
An interesting footnote: Saturday’s win guarantees Bravo’s Patriots a place in Tuesday’s semi-final. TKR too, by virtue of their comparatively high positive net run-rate (NRR), are almost guaranteed a semi-final place, barring something absolutely catastrophic in Sunday’s final game.
Is it beyond the realms of possibility that, with these two teams set to play the last group game on Sunday evening when the points standing and other two qualifiers’ NRR are already known, the shrewd West Indies white ball captain is seeking to choose his slot in the 1 vs 4 and 2 vs 3 semi-final match-ups?
Toss: St Kitts and Nevis Patriots
Trinbago Knight Riders: 159 for 7 (Colin Munro 47, Sunil Narine 33*, Darren Bravo 22, Jon-Russ Jaggesar 3/32, Dominic Drakes 3/33)
SKNP: 160 for 2 (Evin Lewis 102*, Chris Gayle 35, Kieron Pollard 1/30, Ali Khan 1/54)
Man-of-the-Match: Evin Lewis (SKNP)
Result: SKNP win by 8 wkts
Points: SKNP 2 TKR 0
TEAMS P W L T NR Pts NRR
SKN/Patriots 9 6 3 0 0 12 -0 .299
TKR 9 5 4 0 0 10 0.719
GA/Warriors 9 5 4 0 0 10 0.041
St L/Kings 9 5 4 0 0 10 -0.116
J/Tallawahs 9 4 5 0 0 8 0.216
B/Royals 9 2 7 0 0 4 -0.619
SCHEDULE OF REMAINING GAMES
Sun 12, 10am: St Lucia Kings vs Barbados Royals
Sun 12, 2.30pm: Guyana Amazon Warriors vs Jamaica Tallawahs
Sun 12, 7pm: Trinbago Knight Riders vs St Kitts & Nevis Patriots.
Tues 14, 10am; Semi-final A—1 vs 4
Tues 14, 2.30pm: Semi-final B—2 vs 3
Wed 15: 10am: Final—Winner A vs Winner B
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