For a brief moment, it looked like the umpiring, less than stellar throughout this year’s CPL played entirely at Warner Park in St Kitts and Nevis, would steal Man-of-the-Match Dominic Drakes’ thunder.
But, in the end, justice was done.
Mere moments after the 23-year-old left-handed son of former West Indies fast bowler Vasbert Drakes tucked St Lucia Kings Kesrick Williams’ last ball of the 20th over off his legs and scampered through for the single, he disappeared under a sea of his team-mates.
The single took the score to 160 for 7, sealing a 3-wicket victory for Dwayne Bravo’s St Kitts and Nevis Warriors. And that franchise’s first-ever lien on the trophy since the start of the competition in 2013.
Drakes came to the crease ahead of 2021 World Cup-bound all-rounder Fabian Allen. He joined his skipper with their side in a spot of bother at 75 for 4 in pursuit of the Kings’ 159.
At the halfway stage, it had not seemed likely to be enough. Halfway through the SKNP innings in the 11th over, it was looking like much too much.
Not for Drakes (48* off 24, 3 x 6, 3 x 4).
The vote of confidence from the team leadership and the coaching staff must have done something for him; he smashed his first ball for a boundary off Alzarri Joseph, who had only just removed the in-form Sherfane Rutherford (25 off 22, 1 x 4, 2 x 6).
However, slow but steady was the order of the day for the Drakes/Bravo partnership; by the end of the 13th, they were both still there. But the asking rate had hit double figures.
It was only at the end of the 15th, after David Wiese had had Bravo (8 off 11) caught by Keemo Paul on the cover boundary, that the left- hander would get his second boundary.
And 55 were still needed off the last five overs.
By the end of the 16th, that was down to only just over 40 after he crashed Wiese over the boundary for his first six and Allen, who replaced Bravo, slashed him for four.
Drakes would lose Allen (20 off 18, 2 x 4) before he got his third six, an almighty heave over the cover boundary off Wahab.
And then Wahab would appear to step into Sheldon Cottrell’s path, causing him to fall as he scrambled to complete a tight second run. After a discussion with acting Kings’ captain Andre Fletcher, the umpires ruled Cottrell out, hardly the right decision.
Had Williams been able to defend nine runs in the last over, the controversy might well have taken centre-stage. But although the 31-year-old right-handed medium-fast bowler came close, he fell at the very last hurdle. He was visibly distraught at the end of the game and had to be consoled by team-mates.
A disappointed but upbeat Fletcher praised his crestfallen bowler, his team’s efforts and warned that they now have momentum and, after reaching two successive finals, they will be back.
Drakes and Naseem Shah took singles off the first and second balls and a two instead of the available three off the fourth so that the senior batsman would retain the strike.
With five needed off the last two, Drakes smacked a half-volley to cover to set up the grand finale that saw him drowned in a Patriots sea.
Drakes’ and the Patriots’ task would have been easier were it not for Paul.
It was he who helped the Kings to what seemed like a defensible total. Having once more got little or nothing from skipper Fletcher (11 off 9) and negligible contributions from semi-final heroes Mark Deyal (1 off 3), the promoted Wiese (2 off 6) and Tim David (10 off 10), they had needed the biggish hands they got from Rahkeem Cornwall (43 off 32) and Roston Chase (43 off 40).
Once Evin Lewis (6 off 6, caught Chase, bowled Wahab) failed to fire in the Patriots’ innings, that score proved enough to eventually enable the newly certified West Indies white ball player to finish top of the run-scoring table and earn the Player-of-the-Tournament accolade.
But when Shah made a mess of his stumps, there were just two overs left and only a modest 128 on the board.
No problem for Paul.
He ruined Fawad Ahmed figures with a hat-trick of sixes in over #19, including one off a ball that, had he made no contact with it, would have been called wide even in a red ball match.
And then he added another one and a four before offering substitute fieldsman Jonathan Carter a high catch on the mid-wicket boundary as he sought to add a few extra runs.
In the end, however, Drakes made it all count for nothing.
Having set out to challenge himself by leaving defending champions TKR to work with a new franchise that had not previously enjoyed the taste of success, skipper Bravo was, he said, ‘out of my comfort zone’.
With Wednesday’s game, he became only the second player to have 500 T20s under his belt. He also boasts 15 T20 final wins and four CPL titles as captain and is the first player to have been a part of five CPL final wins.
For most people, that would come out easily as ‘over the moon’.
Toss: St Lucia Kings
SLK: 159 for 7 (Rakheem Cornwall 43, Roston Chase 43, Keemo Paul 39, Naseem Shah 2/26, Fawad Ahmed 2/32)
St Kitts and Nevis Patriots: 160 for 7 (Dominic Drakes 48*, Joshua da Silva 37, Sherfane Rutherford 25, Fabian Allen 20, Wahab Riaz 2/36)
Man-of-the-Match: Dominic Drakes
Result: SKNP win by 3 wkts
Player-of-the-Tournament: Roston Chase
St Kitts and Nevis Patriots win their first CPL trophy
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