Sunday, 29th June 2015: Gros Islet, St Lucia – Chris Gayle hammered an outrageous unbeaten 90 off just 36 balls as the Appleton Estate Jamaica Tallawahs ended the St Lucia Zouks’ unbeaten start to the 2015 Hero Caribbean Premier League with a thumping 10-wicket victory at the Beausejour Cricket Ground.
The Zouks were looking for a third straight win in their final home game of the 2015 CPL, but were on the back foot throughout a one-sided encounter at Gros Islet. While yet another astonishing T20 innings from Gayle sealed the deal for the Tallawahs, the bulk of the hard work was done in the first half of the game.
The Zouks’ powerful batting line-up never got going against some fine, disciplined bowling and sensational catching, limping their way to 118-9 as Jerome Taylor (2-17), Rusty Theron (3-19) and Krishmar Santokie (3-24) all excelled.
And Gayle made sure that small target never posed his side any problems as he set about the Zouks bowling attack with abandon, ably supported by Chadwick Walton.
While the Zouks struggled to find the ropes throughout their stuttering innings, Gayle peppered the boards with astonishing frequency from the off, blasting his way to 37 not out after just three overs. With Walton not hanging around either despite getting little of the strike, the 50 came up inside four overs.
The Tallawahs’ victory march was temporarily slowed when a rapid Kemar Roach delivery struck Walton in the box, but he and Gayle were soon back in full flow. Back-to-back sixes off Roach, the second a high no-ball carved down to third-man, took Gayle to a 20-ball half-century. It was the second fastest in CPL history, and his 50th in the shortest format to go with 15 hundreds. By the end of the Powerplay, Gayle and Walton had amassed 77 of the 119 runs required for victory.
When Darren Sammy finally turned to spin in the 10th over of the innings, the Tallawahs were 98-0 and the outcome had long been a formality.
Gayle was in no mood to throttle back, though, racing to the victory target by taking Liam Sebastian for three sixes and a four in successive deliveries to finish the game with a full 10 overs remaining. The astonishing 36-ball assault from the Jamaica captain included six fours and nine sixes as the Tallawahs not only got their first win of the campaign but also gave their net run-rate a huge boost.
It was all in stark contrast to the game’s first innings. So much of the Zouks’ early success in this year’s Hero CPL has been built on the fast starts given to them by opening batsmen Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher. Not this time.
Although Charles did take three boundaries off Santokie’s second over, the third of the innings, Gayle was able to turn to the experience and quality of Daniel Vettori and Taylor to bring the scoring rate down.
There were only 39 runs on the board when Taylor fired a yorker underneath Charles’ bat for 29 in the final over of the Powerplay.
So disciplined was the Tallawahs’ bowling that Fletcher didn’t hit his first boundary until the eighth over, when a thick inside edge brought him four to fine-leg off Theron’s medium-pace.
The bowler got instant revenge, however, thanks to the first of three superb outfield catches from the Tallawahs. Fletcher made good contact this time as he lined Theron up through midwicket, but was astonished to see Vettori fling himself to his left for a superb one-handed grab.
The first six of the Zouks innings came after the halfway stage of the innings as Kyle Mayers (13) managed to get Nikita Miller away down the ground. But he too departed immediately after the boundary thanks to a smart piece of cricket from Chris Lynn out on the midwicket boundary, catching the ball then tossing it up just before going over the rope before coolly coming back into play to complete the catch.
With the overs running out and the run-rate hovering around a run a ball, the pressure was on the experienced pair of Kevin Pietersen and Ross Taylor to propel the Zouks to a competitive total. But it wasn’t to be, with both men departing in a pivotal over from Theron. Taylor was trapped leg-before by a nip-backer that was heading towards leg stump for just eight before Pietersen fell on 26 to the third and best of the afternoon’s memorable Tallawahs catches. There appeared little danger for Pietersen when he miscued a pull shot high into what looked like empty space out on the legside, but he reckoned without Santokie who sprinted back from midwicket before going horizontal to pluck a superb catch out of the air to the obvious delight of his team-mates.
Buoyed by that stunning effort in the field, Santokie then picked up two wickets in his next over to put paid to any hopes the Zouks had of a sizeable total as first Darren Sammy and then Liam Sebastian had their stumps rearranged and departed without scoring.
Kemar Roach was harshly adjudged lbw to Taylor before Henry Davids holed out off Santokie, who came back well after his early punishment. Fidel Edwards and Shannon Gabriel did manage to scramble through to the end of the 20 overs, but the total never looked enough. Gayle made absolutely sure.