Another excellent St Lucia Zouks bowling performance ensured Roston Chase’s backs-to-the-wall fifty was not in vain, as Chemar Holder bowled a brilliant last over to deny the Guyana Amazon Warriors, who looked to have recovered from a rocky start through the flashing blade of Nicholas Pooran.
With all three previous games on this track won by the team batting first, Daren Sammy chose to set a target. Kimani Melius announced himself on Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) debut with a glorious Hero Maximum off Chandrapaul Hemraj but was caught at mid-off trying to repeat the trick off Imran Tahir.
Tahir didn’t stop there, as he had Mark Deyal dropped first ball and caught second, both by Ashmead Nedd. Nedd started solidly with the ball, but Chase clubbed Keemo Paul for six to add some gloss to the Zouks’ Powerplay score of 37/2.
Amazon Warriors captain Chris Green used five bowlers in the first seven overs including two overs from himself, culminating in him yorking Andre Fletcher. Nedd got the deserved wicket of Najibullah Zadran, whose mishit saw him caught on the boundary for a duck.
A lot now rested on Chase and Mohammad Nabi, and the Bajan took three boundaries off Odean Smith’s first over. The two were cautious initially against the spinners, and the Zouks were a middling 67/4 at halfway.
Paul and Smith conceded just one boundary each, and Nedd finished his spell beautifully. Nabi briefly broke free with an enormous Hero Maximum and a powerful four off Green, but he was beaten in the flight by Tahir and gave the skipper a straightforward catch.
Chase brought up his second T20 fifty off 40 balls, and in his first game for the Zouks, Javelle Glenn got off the mark with a lovely cover-drive. But Paul was dismissed for just two, and with four overs to go, the Zouks needed an acceleration. Chase provided it, launching Tahir straight and swinging Paul through square leg, and Glenn settled himself with a boundary of his own.
Green gave Smith the last over, and his pace proved effective as Glenn and Chase fell in consecutive balls. There was to be no hat-trick, but the over was reward for the bowler and captain’s persistence, and the Zouks’ total seemed below-par.
Their bowling however was anything but. Nabi bowled a superb first over, and two Scott Kuggeleijn short balls saw King caught behind for 1 and Shimron Hetmyer top-edging to square leg for 4 to leave the Amazon Warriors two down in the second over.
The Amazon Warriors predicament got even worse when Ross Taylor top-edged a reverse paddle-sweep off the back of the bat into his own helmet and was caught, giving Nabi his first wicket. Even a Hemraj six off Chase couldn’t put much gloss on a Powerplay of 19/3.
Pooran was lucky to pick up four off a Kesrick Williams short ball, but there was nothing lucky about the authoritative pull for six that followed. Holder was wayward, with wides, a no-ball and a deft steer through the third man, and a 15 run-over took the Amazon Warriors to 59/3 at halfway.
Hemraj struggled for timing throughout, and eventually spooned a leading edge off Williams which was well caught by Chase. Sammy showed faith in Holder, who recovered after being crashed for four by the promoted Paul, but two boundaries in a 12 run over from Pooran put a slight dent in Nabi’s still excellent figures.
The Zouks got sloppy in the next over, as an overthrow brought up Pooran’s 50 off 32 balls and Sammy dropped a very simple catch. Pooran then top-edged over the keeper’s head for four to bring the required rate under 9.
Chase ensured Pooran couldn’t find a boundary, but the Amazon Warriors’ number five made up for that off Williams to take his team into the last four overs needing 39. Paul clobbered a Hero Maximum off Chase’s last ball and brought up the 50 partnership, but he picked out Nabi at deep midwicket in the next over.
Sherfane Rutherford blasted his second ball for six to dent Kuggeleijn’s figures. The equation seemed to have swung dramatically in the Zouks favour when Pooran bottom-edged a Williams slower ball onto his stumps, but the Warriors burgled 8 off the last four balls of the 19th including a botched run-out to leave Rutherford on strike and 13 to win off the last over, to be bowled by Holder.
Holder responded magnificently. He flattened Rutherford’s off-stump with a pinpoint yorker, then he had captain Green caught behind, and a bowler who’d gone for 30 off his first 3 overs sealed the win with 2/2, showing the world why West Indian cricket is so excited about him and giving the Zouks a third straight win ahead of the move to Port-of-Spain.