Openers Rakheem Cornwall and Andre Fletcher were in no-nonsense mode at Sabina Park, Kingston, on Thursday night, as they blasted the St Lucia Zouks to a five-wicket win over the Jamaica Tallawahs in the Hero Caribbean Premier League.
Cornwall was the most destructive, hitting a 30-ball 75 laced with four fours and eight maximums, while Fletcher was unbeaten on 47 at the end as the Zouks, chasing 171 for victory, got there with 20 balls to spare.
The win was the Zouks’ first of the tournament, moving them to joint second place on the table alongside the Barbados Tridents and St Kitts Nevis Patriots, all three teams on two points each although the Zouks now have the best net run-rate. The Guyana Amazon Warriors and the Trinbago Knight Riders remain atop the six-team table with six points, while the Tallawahs were dead last after their loss.
However, the defeat may yet cost the Tallawahs even more as talisman all-rounder Andre Russell may be out for a few games after being hit on the head by a bouncer during his innings.
However, if the Tallawahs do not rebound from their poorest CPL start ever ‑ they are now winless in three games -, they can credit their poor fielding for it.
They dropped Cornwall twice and Fletcher once during the Zouks openers’ destructive 111-run partnership inside nine overs, which certainly may have turned the game had the catches been held.
Cornwall was dropped on 18 by Shamar Springer running from square leg to the boundary for a skier with the score on 33 and 36 by Chadwick Walton at point, although he had all the time to settle under the ball before dropping it with the score on 53.
Fletcher meanwhile got his life on 15 as pacer Oshane Thomas dropped a ball that was hit in his lap at third man off fellow pacer Dervall Green. Cornwall then blasted a six and a four off Green’s next two balls to rub salt into the Tallawahs’ wound.
Cornwall eventually went on to complete his half-century off 19 balls in the sixth over, including six maximums. He was out 25 runs after that, chopping a delivery off Springer onto his stumps for a belligerent 30-ball 75 but by then had already set Zouks up nicely for their first win.
Fletcher then toned down his aggressive style to guide his team home with the middle order and even a late three-wicket burst from Thomas (3/26) could not halt the Zouks’ path to victory. Fletcher eventually finished on 47 off 36 balls with two fours and three sixes.
The visitors had earlier got off to a brilliant start when left-arm seamer Obed McCoy removed veteran Chris Gayle with his very first ball to the left-handed talisman. McCoy produced a delivery which jumped off the pitch and got Gayle reaching for it, only to glove it through to wicket-keeper Andre Fletcher for a first-ball duck as the Tallawahs were six for one.
This stunned the home fans, who were hoping to see another innings of the calibre of Gayle’s 116 in the last match against the St Kitts Nevis Patriots, which they also lost despite setting a world total. The fans would be stunned into silence even further in the fourth over when Chadwick Walton pulled a short McCoy delivery straight into the waiting hands of John Campbell on the deep backward square boundary as Tallawahs stuttered to 28-2.
Rovman Powell then joined Glenn Phillips and the two consolidated the innings with an 87-run stand in which both men began to take on the Zouks bowling. The partnership was finally broken by leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed in the 11th over thanks to brilliant work on the boundary by Colin de Grandhomme. Powell played a rasping back foot drive off the Aussie leg-break bowler towards the long-off boundary, only to see de Grandhomme stop its path over the boundary, throw it up in the air as he was about to go over the boundary marker, toss it back towards the field and still had the presence of mind to run back on and complete the catch in play. This brought a review from the umpires before Powell’s dismissal for a 22-ball 44, including one four and five sixes, was confirmed.
Ahmed struck again in his next over, the 13th of the innings, when he induced a false shot from Phillips which was again gobbled up by de Grandhomme at long-off with the score on 125-4. Phillips went for a top score of 58 from 34 balls, including eight fours and a six.
However, the air was sucked out of the venue in the next over when Andre Russell was struck on the helmet by a bouncer lined at leg stump from South African Hardus Viljoen. Russell went for a pull shot off a short delivery, missed and was hit under the right ear. As Viljoen and other fielders rushed to his assistance, Russell tried unsuccessfully to leave the field on his own strength and was stretchered off the field and taken to hospital for scans. It was later revealed Russell did not suffer any major injury but will probably miss Friday’s game against the Knight Riders while under the regulation concussion protocol.
After Russell’s departure, the innings fell away, giving the Zouks hope they could overhaul the home side’s total. And that they did comfortably thanks to Cornwall.
JAMAICA TALLAWAHS 170-5 (Glenn Phillips 58, Rovman Powell 44, Fawad Ahmed 2/28, Obed McCoy 2/32) v ST LUCIA ZOUKS 171-5 (Rakheem Cornwall 75, Andre Fletcher 47, Colin de Grandhomme 25, Oshane Thomas 3/26)
Result: ST LUCIA ZOUKS WON BY 5 WICKETS
Man-of-the-Match: Rakheem Cornwall