by David Harris
Barbados Tridents, excellently led by Kieron Pollard, won the first match of the inaugural Limacol Caribbean Premier League T20 tournament against the St. Lucia Zouks lead by Darren Sammy by 17 runs at Kensington Oval last night.
Pollard won the toss, decided to bat, and a loud cheer echoed around the historic ground as Barbados Tridents openers Dwayne Smith and Jonathan Carter emerged from the dugout in front of Garfield Sobers Stand.
Smith faced the first ball from South African all-rounder Albie Morkel and the massive crowd inside the Oval stared in shock as the Barbadian batsman was dismissed for a duck.
He played a flashing drive outside the off stump and was caught by wicket-keeper Andre Fletcher. The Tridents had lost their first wicket without a run being scored and the match was off to a dramatic start.
Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik joined Carter and they shared a second-wicket partnership of 30 runs which ended in the fourth over when the left-handed Barbadian batsman was caught at deep forward square by Devon Smith off Sammy for 11 in the fourth over.
Top Bangladeshi all-rounder Shakib-al-Hasan, another left hander, cut at a ball outside the off stump from Sammy and was caught by Fletcher for five. Tridents were 47 for three wickets in seven overs and in trouble.
The local franchise received another body blow when Umar Akmal, who had a fine series for Pakistan in the just concluded One Day International and T20 series, was out for nought to a horrible umpiring error with the score on 48 after 7.2 overs. The talented batsman was given out caught down the leg-side after Sammy took an attempted paddle off his pads.
Captain Pollard strolled to the wicket as the party music blared and cheerleaders gyrated, and the situation looking grim for the Tridents. His partner Malik was the only batsman up to that stage who had mastered the bowling of the Zouks.
A day earlier Pollard had told journalists at the Grantley Adams International Airport that he would have to dig deep to win the heart of Barbadians; the four previous batsmen had dug Tridents into a hole. Pollard and Malik would proceed to dig them out.
At the end of tenth over the score was 62 for four, Malik was on 40 and Pollard three. Malik reached 50 off 35 balls in the 15th over in which he pounded fast bowler Nelon Pascal for 15 runs.
Malik and Pollard added 88 runs for the fifth wicket in 62 balls, every stroke was met with loud cheers from the excited fans in the stands.
Malik was caught at long-off by Herschelle Gibbs off Tino Best for 78 with the score on 136 for five in 17.5 overs, and it was time for the captain to take charge.
Pollard blasted 28 runs off the last two overs to give the Tridents a respectable total of 169 runs for five wickets, each shot fashioned in a manner that suggested no protest would stop him from winning the hearts of the Barbadian public. He made 61 runs from 46 balls in 59 minutes with four blistering fours and three massive sixes.
Sammy took two wickets for 36 runs from his four overs, Garey Mathurin bowled three miserly overs for 15 runs.
Set a total of 170 to win the match, the Zouks were off to fine start with an opening partnership of 57 by Tamim Iqbal and Andre Fletcher.
The partnership ended when off-spinner Ashley Nurse had Iqbal stumped by Umar Akmal for 22 at the start of the sixth over.
Herschelle Gibbs was quickly out for 7 in the eighth over with the Zouks having scored a rapid 81 runs for the lost of two wickets.
At the end of the tenth over the Zouks were 90 for 2 wickets, with Fletcher hammering the bowlers to all parts of the ground.
He made 57 in 49 minutes from 41 balls with four boundaries and four massive sixes. But after his dismissal in the 11th over brilliantly caught one-handed by Pollard off Nurse, there were a slump in the Zouks middle-order with the wickets of Devon Smith, Misbah- Ul -Haq and Albie Morkel all falling cheaply.
Sammy tried to blast the Zouks back into the match with a sparkling 35 with four boundaries and two sixes but the writing was on the wall for the Zouks with his dismissal and they were bowled out for 152 in 19.4 overs. Sammy struck pacer Jason Holder for 14 runs off the first three balls of the 19th over but then had his stumps breached by the lanky Barbadian.
Holder, Nurse, and Rayad Emrit took two wickets apiece but Pollard was the outstanding bowler with three victims for 15 runs from 2.4 overs.
Shoaib Malik was named the Man of the Match but the Man of Bajan Hearts award went to Kieron Pollard.