Saturday’s two early games at Warner Park in St Kitts and Nevis saw a somewhat surprising reshuffle in the middle of the 2021 CPL pack.
In the morning game, Faf du Plessis’ St Lucia Kings moved easily past the consistently struggling Barbados Royals by 14 runs, leaving Jason Holder’s side definitively out of the semi-final places.
And in the afternoon game, it was Nicholas Pooran’s Guyana Amazon Warriors who got the better of the Jamaica Tallawahs, leaving Rovman Powell’s back-pedalling unit needing to reverse the result in Sunday’s final match-up to secure a semi-final place.
In the first game, when stand-in skipper Andre Fletcher handed David Wiese the ball at the end of the 8th over in the Royals’ innings, Holder’s troops looked to be in the driver’s seat. Chasing a challenging but not inaccessible 178 to earn themselves two points and stay in the hunt for an unlikely semi-final place, they had got to 72 for 1, needing 104 off 12 overs.
It would not be easy but it was doable; there were still nine wickets in hand.
By the end of the over, they had got one run closer. But the wickets in hand were down to six.
Man-of-the-Match Wiese removed Johnson Charles (30 off 24, 3 x 6, 1 x 4) with his second ball and with the next had Glenn Phillips caught at the wicket by Fletcher. Skipper Holder denied him the hat-trick but Fletcher leapt high to haul down an edged chance on the second attempt and Shai Hope (31 off 18, 1 x 6, 3 x 4) became Wiese’s third victim off the last ball of the over.
The former South African all-rounder would return to dismiss Holder in over #16 and then Hayden Walsh Jr (30 off 18, 3 x 6, 1 x 4) in the 19th to finish with impressive figures of 5/25 in his four overs.
Jeavor Royal, Wahab Riaz and Alzarri Joseph all claimed a single wicket each to restrict the advance of the Royals, who remained in with a chance until, when he saw the rain threatening in the 16th over, Holder sacrificed his wicket in trying to get ahead of the DLS par score.
The third of three rain interruptions sliced some time off the encounter so that, on the resumption, the Royals, chasing the Kings’ 175 for 6, were required to get only to a revised target of 170.
They could get no further than 155.
Put in to bat by Holder, the Kings lost Fletcher off the second ball of the match, lbw to Mohammad Amir. Neither Mark Deyal, promoted to partner Fletcher, nor the in-form Roston Chase would give the scorers too much work so it was left to Wiese (17 off 15) to add 52 with his captain before Walsh had him caught by Nyeem Young at 85 for 4.
Tim David (34 off 23) then put on 46 with the injured du Plessis (84 off 54, 4 x 6, 5 x 4), who extraordinarily had an 8-minute medical timeout in the middle of his innings.
When he eventually holed out to Thisara Perera at long-on, Keemo Paul (22 off 11, 2 x 6) and David struck some lusty blows to get their team up to a score that would prove a bridge too far for Holder’s self-doubting soldiers.
Amir also claimed Deyal’s scalp to finish with 2/31 while Holder, Walsh, Young and young Joshua Bishop had one wicket each.
Scores: St Lucia Kings 175 for 6, Barbados Royals 155.
Guyana Amazon Warriors 169 for 6, Jamaica Tallawahs 123.
In the afternoon game, a rapid, unbeaten half-century from Man-of-the-Match Pooran was the only contribution of note as the Warriors posted a challenging 150-plus total.
In a 39-ball 75, the 25-year-old West Indies T20 vice-captain slammed four fours and seven towering sixes, which put him temporarily at the top of the so-called ‘maximums’ hit list with 21. His dominant knock added respectability to an innings that had threatened to go south after Shimron Hetmyer followed openers Brandon King (12 off 8) and Chandrapaul Hemraj (16 off 13) back into the pavilion at 63 for 3.
But Shoaib Malik provided some stability at the other end, surviving 29 balls for his 23, his only boundary a six. When he holed out to Migael Pretorius off Andre Russell at 117 for 4 in the 15th over, his skipper was left to ensure that the momentum did not slacken towards the end of the innings.
He did so, sometimes spectacularly. But the overs ran out at 169 for 6.
Russell, who had King caught by Green, also had Shoaib caught by Pretorius to finish with 2/35 while Green (1/17), Pretorius (1/31) and Carlos Brathwaite (1/35) were the other successful bowlers.
In the disappointing Tallawahs reply, Kirk McKenzie’s 28 (1 x 6, 2 x 4) was the only score of note. As is his wont, McKenzie’s opening partner Kennar Lewis blasted two massive sixes before he departed, caught by Shoaib on the boundary behind the bowler.
Shoaib also caught number three Haider Ali, who simply has never looked the part, off Odean Smith—also the bowler when Hemraj accepted a sharp chance at short-cover off McKenzie. Smith would also induce the false shot from Russell for Romario Shepherd to pouch the chance at long-on.
When Carlos Brathwaite then offered a simple catch to Pooran at short extra-cover in the same Gudakesh Motie over in which he had Shamarh Brooks stumped by Anthony Bramble, the game was effectively over.
The Tallawahs never looked like getting close to their target, eventually reaching 123 all out in the 20th over. Motie took 3/25 and Naveen-ul-Haq, who bowled Imad Wasim and Veerasammy Permaul late in the innings, 2/8 off his 3.1 overs.
So the Tallawahs (8 pts), who began with a 200-plus innings against the Kings (10 pts) and repeated the feat in the return game, now find themselves in the hot seat. Should they fail to get past GAW (10 pts) in Sunday’s afternoon game, they will be watching Tuesday’s semi-finals from the stands.
TEAMS P W L T NR Pts
TKR 8 5 3 0 0 10
St L/Kings 9 4 5 0 0 10
GA/Warriors 9 5 4 0 0 10
SKN/Patriots 8 5 3 0 0 10
J/Tallawahs 9 4 6 0 0 8
B/Royals 9 2 7 0 0 4
FINAL SUNDAY SCHEDULE
Sun 12, 10am: BR vs SLK
Sun 12, 2.30pm: GAW vs JT
Sun 12, 7pm: TKR vs SKNP