The star-studded Caribbean Premier League continued on its flamboyant path last night as struggling St Lucia Zouks kept their tournament alive with a rain-affected victory over the Antigua Hawksbills at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.
The Zouks remain bottom of the table on net run-rate but recorded only their second win to catch the Hawksbills and Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel on four points. The Zouks meet the Red Steel on Saturday in a crucial clash, with both sides needing a win to keep their hopes of a semi-final berth alive.
St Lucia’s formidable batting line-up has failed to fire thus far but last night found their range to record their highest score of the tournament yet, 179-4. Prior to the clash in Antigua, their highest score was 152 on the tournament’s opening night, a disappointing return for a top seven that boasts five recognised batsmen and two allrounders of international quality and experience.
After Darren Sammy won the toss and elected to bat, the Zouks built their innings around a typically belligerent innings from Andre Fletcher. The West Indies batsman smashed 76 from 53 balls before falling to Marlon Samuels in the final over.
Fletcher acted as the innings’ pivot, building several key partnerships. His brisk opening stand of 46 with Bangladesh star Tamim Iqbal got the innings off to a fluent and positive start, before another stand of 46 with Devon Smith put the Zouks in a strong position. Smith twice cleared the ropes as Orlando Peters’ medium-pacers came in for particular punishment.
The key stand, however, was shared by Fletcher and his skipper Sammy, who ended 35 not out from 20 deliveries. The key to the partnership of 59 from 34 balls was the rotation of the strike but they weren’t afraid to clear the ropes either; Sammy, in particular, looked to inject impetus with three maximums as the score flew past 150.
It looked an imposing target but Hawksbills opener Johnson Charles smashed three successive boundaries off Garey Mathurin in the first over of the innings, before perishing to the slow left-armer’s fifth delivery. Kieran Powell gifted a simple return catch to the same bowler just two overs later.
After a short rain break, Jahmar Hamilton, making his tournament debut, attempted to provide some stability before falling to Tino Best for 24. With heavy rain falling, this wicket led the umpires to take the players off the field once more.
With no chance of further play, the Zouks were declared the winners as Antigua sat at 76-3, 17 runs behind the Duckworth-Lewis par score of 93 from 10.4 overs. Fletcher was named Man of the Match for his outstanding knock that kept the away side’s semi-final hopes alive.
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