St. Lucia Zouks (144-3) beat Jamaica Tallawahs (143 all out) by 7 wickets with 15 balls remaining.
The St. Lucia Zouks celebrated the arrival of Kevin Pietersen at the Limacol Caribbean Premier League with their second victory in two games. They beat the table topping Jamaica Tallawahs to open things up at the summit of the league. Pietersen played a patient innings that allowed the struggling St. Lucia batsmen to find some stability that has been missing until this point.
Some excellent bowling from Mervin Mathew helped restrict the Tallawahs to a total that was never going to be enough. He finished with figures of three for 15 to set up an easy chase for his side. Although the Zouks bowled well, they were helped by some injudicious shot making by the Jamaican side as the small Warner Park boundaries proved too much of a temptation for them.
The Tallawahs started watchfully, with Chris Gayle taking his usual approach of using up some deliveries to get himself set. It was Chadwick Walton who looked to be the aggressor, while his captain was more reticent in approach. This time the risk of using up balls in the Powerplay did not work for Gayle as he was trapped LBW by Shane Shillingford for three off ten balls.
Walton kept the scoreboard moving after his captain departed, scoring 48 runs at a decent lick before he fell to an excellent catch on the boundary by Mervin Mathew off the bowling of Liam Sebastien. Owais Shah departed just two balls later when he played all around a Darren Sammy inswinger that removed his off stump.
The wickets continued to fall as the Tallawahs top order failed to take advantage of an excellent pitch and small boundaries. Voges top edged a Sammy slower ball bouncer to give Tino Best an easy chance. Nkrumah Bonner fell to an outstanding catch from Mathew who caught a well-timed drive in his follow through to dismiss the batsman caught and bowled.
A breezy partnership between Andre Russell and Christopher Bernard looked like getting the Jamaican innings motoring, but both men fell to poor shots. Russell steered a ball straight into the hands of the man at short third man, Bernard chipped a delivery to the fielder on the square leg rope.
Some later order blows from Daniel Vettori and Rusty Theron pushed the Tallawahs up towards 150, but the swing from the hip approach meant the Tallawahs kept on skying the ball for someone to come underneath it for a catch. They were bowled out in the 20th over for just 143 on a pitch where they would have hoped for 200.
Once it came to the turn of the men from St. Lucia to bat, there was no real need for them to tee off from ball one. The target was a small one on this Warner Park ground. Boundaries would come and there was no need to put pressure on the middle order by gifting wickets to their opponents. A wicket did fall inside the Powerplay, but Johnson Charles was a little unfortunate to depart. He attempted a sweep that got a tiny edge on to his helmet that was well caught by the wicket keeper.
That brought Kevin Pietersen to the crease. He was happy to play second fiddle to Andre Fletcher, a man he says he spent some time with in the nets this week. Singles were Pietersen’s stock in trade here, but he did play one crunching shot over wide mid on for four.
Fletcher was going about putting together an innings of class and maturity. He looked unrushed and in charge in his 49 off 35 balls. He went to an excellent Russell yorker that hit on the back foot to see him dismissed LBW. He had broken the back of the chase, it was for the middle order to finish the job.
The Tallawahs had a chance to get back into this game. Henry Davids spooned the ball from Russell to Bernard at mid off, but he failed to take a dolly of a chance. The very next ball that Davids faced, he got the shot right and hit the ball over extra cover for four. Davids did not look back from there, scoring two more boundaries in that Russell over.
Pietersen continued to play the anchor role, hitting singles and watching boundaries from the other end. He could not see it all the way to the end as he was caught on the crease by a Theron ball that swung into his pads and saw him dismissed LBW. What Pietersen had given this side was some solidity. Where as in the past wickets have tumbled, here the chase was undertaken with a minimum of fuss.
Davids and Sohail Tanvir finished the job, as the Zouks ran out winners in a professional performance that came too late for them to make an impact on the tournament. Tallawahs are now behind Red Steel on net run rate, but there is still time for them to secure automatic qualification if they win well against Barbados.
St. Lucia Zouks opening batsman, Andre Fletcher said: “It is a good wicket here at Warner Park for batting and the short boundaries are obviously helpful. However, if you put the ball in the right areas, there is a lot there for the bowlers as well, which we did today.”
Jamaica Tallawahs coach, Mickey Arthur said: “This was a good wake up call for us ahead of the knockout games next week. Despite how the match went for us today, I am happy with where we are at the moment and the senior players have had a really positive influence – it just wasn’t our day.”
The inaugural CPL, billed as “the Biggest Party in Sport” featured six teams competing throughout the region in August 2013 – Jamaica Tallawahs, Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel, Barbados Tridents, Guyana Amazon Warriors, St. Lucia Zouks, Antigua Hawksbills. The Jamaica Tallawahs, captained by Chris Gayle, emerged winners in 2013.