The Jamaica Tallawahs have moved to the top of the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) table with a fine win against the Trinbago Knight Riders at Sabina Park, their third successive home victory in three matches. A career best score by Rovman Powell and a brilliant display of hitting at the end of their innings from Andre Russell helped the Tallawahs to set a target of 159 to win.
Runs from Hashim Amla further cemented his place at the top of the Hero CPL run-scoring chart, but he played a lone hand with wickets falling around him as the Tallawahs won by 19 runs with Andre Russell backing up his batting display with four wickets with the ball.
Much of the speculation before the match was about whether Chris Gayle would be fit to play, and the Tallawahs would have been delighted when he was able to take the field. Unfortunately for the packed crowd at Sabina Park his innings did not last long. Gayle struggled to get off the mark and was dismissed for a nine ball duck when he edged behind off Kevon Cooper.
With both openers gone it fell to Sangakkara and Rovman Powell to rebuild. Powell has continued to impress in his first ever T20 tournament, he has been the find of the Hero CPL. Here he struck four Hero Maximums as he made a T20 high score of 44.
Sangakkara and Powell departed within three balls of each, both falling to short balls from Cooper. Their partnership of 72 came from just 50 balls.
Cooper was in fantastic form with the ball, getting extra bounce that troubled all of the Tallawahs batsmen. He finished with figures of 3-22, his best figures in Hero CPL, and those three wickets were Gayle before he got going and Sangakkara and Powell when well set.
It looked like the Tallawahs would set a sub-par total, but a brilliant counter-attacking 44 from Russell gave the home team a chance. Russell smacked five fours and three sixes using a neon pink bat to give the Knight Riders a stiff chase.
Brendon McCullum came back into the Knight Riders team and opened the batting with Hashim Amla. With Colin Munro at three the Trinbago team have a very strong top order but two of those men were gone within the first four overs. McCullum was out stumped off the bowling of Imad and Munro spooned a catch into the covers off Dale Steyn.
That left Amla to hold it all together, and his innings of 42 did just that, but in the absence of a significant partnership the requited run rate climbed quickly. While Amla was at the crease with Denesh Ramdin the Knight Riders would have felt they were in this chase, but when Amla was out going for a big shot off Kesrick Williams there was still a lot of work to be done.
Dwayne Bravo struck back-to-back boundaries to bring the rate down but another cluster of wickets including two wickets in two balls from Russell ended TKR’s chances of reaching the victory target.
Match 21, St Lucia Zouks v St Kitts & Nevis Patriots Preview
The next stop for the St Lucia Zouks is their home leg at the newly christened Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium that also now features the Johnson Charles Stand. Tickets for the opening fixture have been reduced by 50% to celebrate the first match at the stadium since it has been renamed in honour of the West Indies’ World T20 winning captain.
It will be a big four games for the Zouks who are currently bottom of the Hero CPL table but with three games in hand over the leaders they are still more than capable of making the knockout stages. Sammy is still confident that his team can make the playoffs, despite defeat to the Barbados Tridents in their last match.
“We have six games to go, we just have to keep winning. Last year five games, or four and a half games, would get you into the playoffs. We just we have made it a little bit more difficult for us to qualify. But we are going to keep our heads up and look forward to going home.”
The Zouks’ first opponents at Gros Islet will be St Kitts & Nevis Patriots who are virtually eliminated from the tournament, but Sammy is not taking them for granted. The one win that the Patriots have achieved this season came against the Zouks.
“They defeated us at their home ground, we just have to keep believing and believe that we are a good team. We have just not clicked together, it is not how you start but how you finish a tournament. This week we could go home and play back to back games and gather some momentum. The first game at home is very crucial and hopefully we win at home against St Kitts.”