The moment St Lucia Kings defeated Trinbago Knight Riders in the first semi-final, it was certain that the Caribbean Premier League will have new champions. In the second semi-final, St Kitts & Nevis Patriots trounced Guyana Amazon Warriors.
The Patriots have followed the Kings’ path in one aspect. In 2019, the Kings (then Zouks) finished fifth in the points table but raced to the final in 2020. Similarly, the Patriots were the wooden spoon holders in 2020 but turned it around to clinch a spot in the final. It is now a battle of two Saints in the final of the 2021 CPL to claim their first title. This is also the first time that none of the top two teams on the points table have made it to the final. However, all qualifying sides had little to separate between them.
T20 cricket is, generally speaking, mostly about sixes and it should be no surprise that two sides with the most sixes are in the final. The Patriots have struck 94 maximums in the season while the Zouks sent 88 balls sailing over the boundary ropes. 38 of the Patriots’ sixes have been hit by Evin Lewis, who went past Roston Chase to be stand as the highest run-scorer in the competition in the second semi-final. Chase, in an uncharacteristic record, has hit most sixes for the Kings - 22. The two teams have the highest average and strike-rate this season.
While they have undoubtedly been the best batting sides, they have also been the most expensive with the ball. The Kings have an economy of 8.5 while the Patriots better it marginally, at 8.4. The Patriots have suffered because of Dwayne Bravo’s injury which has not allowed him to bowl.
Both sides have power-hitters. For the Kings, Chase has showcased he belongs to this format with a strike-rate of nearly 150 this season, earning a maiden call-up to the West Indies’ side. There is Tim David who is the new sensation in the T20 circuit. In the Patriots camp, Evin Lewis is in the form of his life. His tally of 420 runs (average 52.5, strike-rate 164.7) is not only the best in the season but 183 runs more than Patriots’ next best batsman - Sherfane Rutherford (237 runs). Its not always the case that a team has Chris Gayle but people talk about someone else. Lewis has done that throughout the season, be it while representing the Patriots or the West Indies unit.
The final will be played on the same track which oversaw the two semi-finals. Given both these games were high-scoring encounters, and given the batting prowess of the two sides, we can expect an entertaining final with bowlers looking for a shed.
The only two kind of bowlers who have been able to neutralize Lewis to some extent are off-spinners (strike-rate of 112.3) and left-arm pacers (16 balls, 16 runs, 2 wickets). The Kings have one each and may start with Roston Chase and Wahab Riaz to keep Lewis under check.
On what is expected to be a good pitch to bat on, the Patriots would want their spinners to flourish. Jon-Russ Jaggesar is their X-factor with his mystery spin and carrom balls ripping past the outside edge of the right-handers. Fawad Ahmed, the leg-spinner, and Fabian Allen’s left-arm spin possess the perfect match-up for the Kings’ batting line-up which has only one left-hander in Mark Deyal.
St Lucia Kings
The Kings might continue missing Faf du Plessis due to his groin injury. While du Plessis is a vital cog in their batting wheel, the Kings have found enough players stepping up in his absence. Jeavor Royal might sit out as his left-arm spin might not be feasible against Patriots’ arsenal loaded with left-handers.
Andre Fletcher (c/wk), Rahkeem Cornwall, Mark Deyal, Roston Chase, David Wiese, Tim David, Keemo Paul, Kadeem Alleyne, Wahab Riaz, Alzarri Joseph, Usman Qadir/Kesrick Williams/Javelle Glen
St Kitts & Nevis Patriots
The Patriots may continue with the same XI that defeated the Warriors in the semi-finals unless they have had enough of Sheldon Cottrell.
Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Joshua da Silva (wk), Dwayne Bravo (c), Sherfane Rutherford, Fabian Allen, Dominic Drakes, Jon-Russ Jagessar, Fawad Ahmed, Naseem Shah, Sheldon Cottrell/Paul van Meekeren
Prior to the start of the previous CPL season, Dwayne Bravo commented on an Instagram post from the official Caribbean Premier League account. “I think this year CPL please allow St Lucia to start with four points”, he said in his comment. It was funny because it was true. However, St Lucia stormed their way into the final to meet the team of Bravo, who was playing for the Knight Riders then. They lost and Bravo was at the thick of the celebrations. He mischievously mentioned they are far ahead of any other side on the championship title count. The Knight Riders are out of this season but St Lucia have once again found Bravo in the final, this time as the Patriots' captain.
When Bravo was asked about the final duel with the Kings at the end of the second semi-final, he burst into a smile. "There's a lot of talks and banter between the teams already," he said, adding some spice to the contest. Not to forget, the Kings defeated the Patriots both times during the league stage.