CPL 2020: Zouks prevail over Tallawahs in inconsequential thriller

Despite the game being a dead rubber, St.Lucia Zouks and Jamaica Tallawahs played out a thrilling game to conclude the group stages of the 2020 Hero Caribbean Premier League. It was a game that swung both ways in periods, but ultimately the spin bowling of the Zouks reigned supreme, as they managed to defend a meager score of 145 to get another win under their belt, ahead of that all-important semi-final game.

Opting to bat first, Zouks opener Rahkeem Cornwall went hell for leather right from the get-go, getting two fours off the first over. Spinners Veerasammy Permaul and Mujeeb ur Rahman though curbed the scoring rate, with the latter accounting for the wicket of Mark Deyal in his first over, leaving the batting side at 26/1 after five. Cornwall though was undeterred by the spin barrage of the Tallawahs, hitting Mujeeb straight down the ground for the first six of the evening in the final over of the powerplay.

Andre Fletcher at the other end though couldn’t keep the runs going like his partner, miscuing one to a fielder on the off-side. Cornwall followed suit soon after, outfoxed by a googly from Sandeep Lamichhane to leave his team at 53/3 after eight overs with two new batsmen at the crease. Things got worse for the Zouks shortly after, as Mohammad Nabi inexplicably found the fielder on short fine leg while attempting a sweep shot to a ball pitched way outside the leg stump.

Najibullah Zadran joined Roston Chase in the middle, and the two began playing out the spinners cautiously, to avoid a further dent in the wickets column. The next four overs of spin yielded just 22 runs, augmented by a four and a six by Chase off Permaul. Zadran too joined the party shortly after, getting a four and a six off reverse sweeps in Lamichhane’s final over to push the team score past hundred.

The southpaw continued his aggressive batting, getting back-to-back sixes off Carlos Braithwaite’s penultimate over. The next two overs however only yielded seven runs, as the Tallawahs bowlers curbed the scoring rate, with Mujeeb picking up the important wicket of Zadran as well. Fidel Edwards followed that up with a wicket of his own, bamboozling Javelle Glenn with a pinpoint yorker.

Despite losing those two quick wickets, the Zouks did well to add 20 runs off the final two overs, supported by a few wides from Braithwaite to finish at a fighting score of 145 for 6.

Obed McCoy’s first over went away for 10 runs, as the Tallawahs openers Glenn Phillips and Jermaine Blackwood started off brightly. The duo also got two boundaries off Nabi’s second over, to consolidate their start. Mark Deyal bowled the final over of the powerplay but ended up conceding 13 runs, putting the Tallawahs in pole position in the early part of the chase.

A wicket however remained elusive for the Zouks, and although the next three overs yielded just a couple of fours, the Tallawahs remained firmly in control of the chase. Phillips continued piling on the runs post the drinks break as well, getting a straight six off Zahir Khan’s bowling. The Afghani spinner however had the last laugh, knocking over the Kiwi cricketer with the score reading 84/1 after 12 overs.

Fellow opener Blackwood too fell shortly after, stumped by Andre Fletcher off Javelle Glenn’s bowling to get the Zouks back in the contest. Things got worse for the Tallawahs, as their captain Rovman Powell fell for single figures, courtesy a brilliant one-handed catch at slip by Sammy. The Zouks captain was in the thick of things yet again shortly after, as the dangerous Andre Russell fell without scoring to the spin of Zahir Khan, edging one to slip.

The flurry of wickets put St.Lucia Zouks in control of the game, as the chasing team now needed 53 off the last six overs with two new players at the crease. Javelle Glenn delivered the perfect follow up over for his team, conceding just three runs to push the run rate to ten for the first time in the chase.

The scoreboard pressure was evident, and that prompted Chadwick Walton to try for a risky double but found himself short of the crease thanks to a pinpoint throw from Najibullah Zadran. New man Carlos Braithwaite didn’t last too long and ended up being trapped in front of the wicket by Glenn who then knocked over Permaul off his first ball to end with staggering figures of 3/16.

Nicholas Kirton, the last recognised batsman for the Tallawahs, gave his time some hope with a four and a six off Nabi’s penultimate over to leave the equation at 24 off the last two. The southpaw got a six off Kesrick Williams’ bowling as well, but that turned out to be his last hurrah as he was castled by the pacer a couple of balls later. Williams struck again of his final delivery, as Lamichhane found the fielder in the deep.

With 17 needed off the last over, it was always going to be too much to ask for the Tallawahs, as Roston Chase delivered an ideal finish for his side, to help the St.Lucia Zouks get an 11-run victory.

St.Lucia Zouks play the semi-finals next against the Guyana Amazon Warriors on Tuesday, September 8.

Scores: St.Lucia Zouks 145 for 6 in 20 overs (Najibullah Zadran 35, Mujeeb ur Rahman 2/28) beat Jamaica Tallawahs 134 for 9 in 20 overs (Glenn Phillips 49, Javelle Glenn 3/16).

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