CASTRIES — Mere days after picking up their first win of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 Tournament, the St. Lucia Zouks were the victims last night, allowing the Antigua Hawksbills to pick up their first win of the campaign by a comfortable 33-run margin at the Beausejour Stadium.
Darren Sammy won the toss for the St Lucia Zouks and asked Marlon Samuels’ Antigua Hawksbills to bat first. It was a surprising decision in itself from the home skipper as the St. Lucia cricket ground tends to be kind to batsmen.
This was further emphasised when Kieran Powell smashed his first four balls for four before getting a single. He had played through the line of two of them, but the other two were simply too short. From early on, the Zouks knew they had a belter on their hands.
Jonathan Charles at the other end struggled to get the ball away. He had started off slowly and missed most of the deliveries he elected to try to hit out of the ground. But luckily for the Hawksbills, Powell was on point during the Powerplay overs.
The opening stand had put on a quick 35 runs from 4.4 overs before Powell flicked a delivery to Devon Smith at deep square- leg. Charles had found his feet by that time and had started to flow. He started attacking the bowling. The Powerplay had finished but he was still finding the boundaries. Together with Australian legend Ricky Ponting, he took the score to 86, smashing five fours in his 30-ball score of 36.
He would eventually play all round a straight delivery from Albie Morkel to be bowled. With the second half of the innings to come, the Hawksbills were in pole position to go on and score a very big total, perhaps double their score but it turned out to be a tricky period for them.
Ponting struggled to get his innings going. He was afforded two early lives, the first given by Darren Sammy. It was the very next delivery after Charles was bowled as Morkel followed through after bowling to Samuels. As the batsmen looked for a quick single, Morkel appeared to push Ponting from the back, causing the batsman to slide and lose momentum. He had given up halfway down the pitch as Shane Shillingford ran in and effected the run out.
The umpires went upstairs to third umpire, Billy Bowden, to judge whether he was impeded. Billy Bowden sent the decision back
downstairs to Zouks captain Sammy, who decided to withdraw the appeal. Five balls later, Ponting would topple over in his crease, only just getting back in time to ensure Andre Fletcher didn’t stump him. His luck didn’t last long though.
Trying to break loose, he slog-swept Morkel into the hands of Smith for 20. The Hawksbills had slipped to 93 for 3 midway through the 13thover. Twenty runs later, Marlon Samuels was unluckily run out backing up too far off a Sammy deflection from a powerful Devon Thomas drive. It took the effort of Thomas at the end to give the Hawksbills the momentum they needed.
Thomas hit the ball clean, smashing three fours and two sixes in his quick-fire knock of 32 runs from 18 balls. By the time he was out in the 18thover, the Hawksbills were 148 for 5. The rest of the batsmen pushed the score to 166 for 6 at the end of their 20 overs. It was a good score, but no one could predict whether it would be good enough. The pitch showed no demons during the first innings.
Andre Fletcher gave the Zouks a start similar to that of Powell for the Hawksbills. Kemar Roach was woefully off target, and Fletcher hit him to every part of the ground. Roach’s first over cost 16 runs. Fletcher had ten of them. His second cost 15, but he would get Fletcher caught off the top edge for 20 in seven balls.
It became evident just how important Fletcher’s batting at the top of the order is for the Zouks. Tamim Iqbal and Herschelle Gibbs put on a short stand of 17 runs before Gibbs swung for the stars but had his stumps uprooted by pacer Gavin Tonge. It was the start of the slide for the Zouks. Though Iqbal stuck around, he wasn’t scoring as fluently as he could or as the situation required.
Just past the halfway mark of the innings, Samuels took his off-stump in his second over. A lot depended on Misbah ul-Haq again, but he would fall to a brilliant catch by Thomas at point when he was on eight. The Zouks, who had started well, were now in tatters at 82 for 5. Morkel’s troubles in the tournament continued three runs later. Thomas ran in aggressively, and hit the pitch hard. Morkel tried to pull him but only managed a top-edge to Sheldon Cotterell.
Over the next 14 runs, both Shillingford and Sammy would go, leaving the Zouks 99 for 8 and all but out of the contest. Liam Sebastien and Garey Mathurin added some respectability to the total, hitting 25 and 12 respectively, but ultimately, the Zouks had been well beaten, managing 133 for 8 in the 20 overs.
Samuels was brilliant with the ball, putting in a Man-of the-Match performance of 4-1-10- 3. Thomas took home both the Limacol Super Six and the Digicel Fastest Scorer awards.