CPL 2020: St. Lucia Zouks script third successive win

It was a game that went down to the wire, but ultimately debutant Chemar Holder kept his nerve to help the St. Lucia Zouks defend 13 runs off the final over to win their third consecutive match in the 2020 Caribbean Premier League. Nicholas Pooran and Sherfane Rutherford threatened to win the match for the Guyana Amazon Warriors at times, but ultimately the Zouks prevailed in a low scoring thriller at the Brian Lara Cricket Stadium in Tarouba.

Youngster Kimani Melius got his chance up top for the Zouks in this game, and he wasted no time settling in, getting a six straight down the ground of just his second delivery. Melius attempted the same shot again off Imran Tahir’s bowling but skied it unconvincingly to mid-off. Tahir struck again in his first over, with Mark Deyal chipping one to the point fielder to leave his team at 20/2 after three overs.

The Amazon Warriors kept peppering the batsmen with spin, curbing the scoring rate, with captain Chris Green picking the wicket of the dangerous Andre Fletcher from the last ball of the powerplay. The Zouks lost Najibullah Zadran too next over and found themselves in a spot of bother at 44/4 after seven overs.

In-form Roston Chase took the mantle upon himself to resurrect the innings, getting three fours off debutant Odean Smith’s first over. Mohammad Nabi and Chase helped provide that much-needed stability for the Zouks in the middle overs, as they kept the run rate at nearly seven without any further damage to the wickets column.

Nabi switched gears in the 14th over, getting a four and a six off Green’s bowling to push the team total close to a hundred. The Afghani all-rounder however tried the same trick against Tahir soon after, but only found the fielder in the deep. That wicket bogged down the Zouks, as they managed just 11 runs off the next two overs.

Chase once again proved his worth with a six and a four in the coming overs to get the score to 135 after 19, getting his second fifty of CPL 2020 in the process. The grandstand finish however wasn’t to be for the Zouks, as Smith picked up the wickets of Chase and Javelle Glenn in the final over of the innings to set up a target of 145 to win for the Guyana Amazon Warriors.

With a modest total on the board, the Zouks needed early wickets, and Scott Kuggeleijn duly obliged, dismissing Brandon King and Shimron Hetmyer, surprising them with his extra pace. The Kiwi pacer followed that up with a maiden in his second over.  On the other end, Nabi put on a masterful display of stump to stump bowling, conceding just five runs of his three overs, while also picking the wicket of the experienced Ross Taylor.

Nicholas Pooran stepped in to join opener Hemraj Chandrapaul in the middle, and the duo did well to rebuild the innings for the Warriors. Pooran took a liking for the pace of Chemar Holder and Kesrick Williams, getting three fours and a six to push the scoring rate to nearly six an over at the midway stage of the chase.

Williams bounced back shrewdly post the drinks break, with a slower one getting the leading edge of Hemraj’s bat to find the fielder at covers. Pooran though kept the attack going for the Warriors, scoring two boundaries on the off-side of Nabi’s final over to get the run rate above six for the first time in the innings.

The southpaw was granted life in the next over, with skipper Daren Sammy putting down a regulation low catch shortly after Pooran got his fifty and left the Warriors needing 39 off the last four overs.

The next over from Chase yielded 10 runs, with Keemo Paul getting a straight six of the last delivery. Paul tried to go for the big shot again next over, but this one only found the inviting hands of Mohammed Nabi at square leg. Sherfane Rutherford walked into the middle, and acclimatised immediately, getting a six off his second ball.

A wicket was needed by the Zouks to get back in the contest, and the experienced Williams did just that, with a slower ball getting the well set Pooran played on. Rutherford was still a bane for the Zouks, as he added seven runs in the remaining balls to leave his team needing 13 off the last over.

Debutant Chemar Holder was tasked with bowling that final over, and the youngster showed great poise and composure to start off with the perfect yorker that knocked over Rutherford. Holder followed that up with a quick delivery on off stump, which got a faint edge of new batsman Green’s blade and went to the keeper.

With 12 needed off the final two balls, Holder kept his line and length on point to give the St. Lucia Zouks a third consecutive win, winning this match by 10 runs. The Zouks play the Trinbago Knight Riders next on August 26.

Scores: St. Lucia Zouks 44/7 (Roston Chase 66, Imran Tahir 3/22) beat Guyana Amazon Warriors:134 for 8 (Nicholas Pooran 68, Scott Kuggeleijn 3/24).

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