Saturday 23 September, 2017

Chris Gayle's Patriots overpower Tallawahs to qualify for playoffs

Fifties from Evin Lewis and Chris Gayle powered the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots to a 37-run victory over the Jamaica Tallawahs in Match 20 of the 2017 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL). The Patriots victory confirms their qualification for the Play Off stage and pulls the Tallawahs into a mid-table scrap with Barbados Tridents and Guyana Amazon Warriors. 

The Patriots win was set up by an excellent team batting effort which saw them post a massive score of 208 which proved too many for the Tallawahs, even on a good batting pitch. 

After being put into bat by the Tallawahs, Lewis and Gayle were relatively becalmed in the Powerplay phase, striking just two boundaries each. Gayle should have been caught on the third man boundary by Odean Smith when on 16 off 17 balls.

Once the field dropped back the Patriots, perhaps liberated by there being fewer close fielders, picked up the scoring rate, scoring 27 off the next two overs before a sharp rain shower delayed play. Half an hour off the field did not appear to disrupt the rhythm of Lewis and Gayle who continued where they left off. Their partnership of 110, of which 80 came in boundaries, was eventually broken in the twelfth over when Lewis skied a leg side ball from Smith high in the air. 50 of Lewis’ 69 runs and all of his six sixes came on the leg side. 

Lewis’ demise brought Carlos Brathwaite to the crease, elevated to number three with 7.3 overs remaining. Brathwaite’s innings was short but destructive, his two fours and two sixes contributed to a 13-ball 26, lifting the Patriots to 151 for 2. Meanwhile Gayle, whose innings hadn't until that point got going was beginning to lose what little momentum he had, having gone 23 balls without a boundary. 

It was then that he finally launched as Mohammad Sami's last over was taken for 25 with Gayle striking two sixes and a four. Whatever Gayle could do, his partner Mohammad Nabi could do better. In an astonishing assault Nabi scored 29 off just 12 balls and it could have been more were it not for a spectacular boundary save by Lendl Simmons. Nabi’s brilliant cameo and a last ball six from Brandon King, off just his first ball, took the Patriots to 208 for 3 from their 20 overs - the highest score of Hero CPL 2017. Gayle finished unbeaten on 71 off 55 balls. 

The Tallawahs innings begun with a new opening partnership in Glenn Phillips and Trevon Griffith. The pair hit some good-looking boundaries in the Powerplay but could only score 48 runs in the phase, increasing the required run rate from 10.45 to 11.50. In the 2.5 overs after the Powerplay the Tallawahs struck just two more boundaries and the rate climbed further still. The growing pressure soon accounted for Griffith, caught off a leading edge for 42 off 32. 

Soon after Phillips was gone too. He had strangely struggled for timing and that eventually cost him as he picked out deep mid-wicket off the bowling of Tabraiz Shamsi. An over later Kumar Sangakkara followed, caught top-edging a sweep against Nabi. The wicket of Simmons, picking out Brathwaite at deep mid-wicket, all but ended the Tallawahs faint hopes of victory with 110 required off 43 balls. Shamsi’s incisive spell of 3 for 35 had dealt a fatal blow to the run-chase. 

Some powerful late hitting from Andre McCarthy and Rovman Powell briefly threatened to open the match up once more but in the end the task was too steep, although it did help protect their Net Run Rate from more significant damage.