Thursday 31st July 2014 – Beausejour, Gros Islet, St. Lucia: An excellent crowd at the Beausejour Stadium was treated to a roller coaster match in the Limacol Caribbean Premier League, but not a home win as the St. Lucia Zouks lost to the Barbados Tridents.
The fastest fifty of the tournament from Sohail Tanvir set up the target, and then some truly quick bowling from 19 year old Ray Jordan took them close, but it was not to be. A brilliantly paced knock from Kieron Pollard was enough to see his side home, but victory was far from certain until the winning runs were scored.
A familiar start to their innings saw the Zouks lose two early wickets. First, Henry Davids didn’t get his feet moving to an in swinger from Kyle Mayers to see his off stump uprooted. Then in the same over, Andre Fletcher was adjudged LBW to a ball that may have struck him just outside the line of off stump. Keddy Lesporis fell in the next over, once again looking for an overly ambitious shot when a period of rebuilding was the more sensible approach.
With the departure of Lesporis, Johnson Charles was joined by Liam Sebastien and they looked to lay the foundations of a competitive total. Charles took on the role of aggressor as Sebastien was content to give the strike back to the opener. This was a tactic that paid off as they put on a partnership of 74, the second highest by the Zouks in this year’s event. Charles was the man to end the stand, caught at mid-wicket for 50 attempting a slog sweep off Shoaib Malik, who was the pick of the Trident’s bowlers.
At last, the Zouks had set Darren Sammy a platform from which to attack. He looked to be in the sort of form to put together something special, and having scored 46 not out in the last game he would have been full of confidence. He then fell to a horrible slice of luck. Sebastien hit a blistering straight drive, Ravi Rampaul got his finger tips to it and the ball cannoned into the stumps. It left the Zouks’ captain agonisingly short of his ground to see him run out. Sebastien seemed devastated with his role in his skipper’s departure, but Sammy took the time to console his batsman as he left the field.
Sebastien could not take up the role of finisher as he holed out to long off, Kieron Pollard the bowler. While Sebastien could not find the boundary late on, Sohail Tanvir did not have the same issue. After a brilliant start in his first over, Mayers went for 22 runs in his fourth as the Pakistani overseas player smashed the ball into the on side hitting three huge sixes.
Things got even more impressive from the last over as the first three balls were hit for six by Tanvir as he reached fifty off just 18 balls, the fastest of CPL 2014. He took his side to 167-7 off their allocation of overs, just about enough to give the Zouks hope of their first win.
It was not to be as the visitors reached victory, but not without having to work for it. The first over of the Tridents innings was eventful, but with Tino Best bowling that is what you have come to expect. He was hit for four, conceded seven wides and took the wicket of danger man Dwayne Smith.
Despite the loss of Smith, the Tridents got off to an excellent start. The man responsible was Jason Holder who was able to score with ease, especially off the back foot on the off side. With him at the crease the Bajans raced along at 10 an over without taking too many risks. He fell for a well-made 48, LBW to West Indies under 19 star, Ray Jordan. That was his first wicket in professional cricket. He had his second the very next ball as Neil McKenzie was caught behind for a golden duck. Jordan has pace and passion, he is a player to watch out for.
Those twin strikes saw a real shift in momentum. Before those wickets the Zouks’ seamers had struggled to keep the scoring rate in check during the first half of the innings. The Tridents had kept their opponents under control with the spin of Shoaib Malik. The home side did the same as Sebastien and Roelof van der Merwe combined to slow things down.
With van der Merwe still having two overs to bowl, Sammy took the brave move to bring the expensive Best back into the attack. While the over went for nine runs it also brought the wicket of Jeevan Mendis to expose the inexperienced Trident’s lower order. Everything now rested on Pollard, but with him still at the crease the Tridents had hope. He kept the strike rotating while hitting boundaries when needed. Pollard is an expert at the death with the bat, and although wickets fell around him he remained an oasis of calm.
With 15 needed off the last over, the experienced Tanvir was given the responsibility of bowling it. Pollard made it look easy as he scored 37 not out to take his side to the victory with two balls to spare. Tonight’s success helps them keep pace with the other front runners in the points table.
This was by far the Zouks most impressive all round performance, and for large portions of the match they looked like the winners. As it was Pollard took it away from them, but there are some positive signs for the men from St. Lucia.