BARBADOS will stage the final set of preliminary matches this weekend as the excitement continues in the 2017 Hero’s Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
The host will meet tournament leaders Trinbago Knight Riders, captained by Dwayne Bravo, this evening and St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots, led by Chris Gayle, tomorrow night at the Kensington Oval.
Meanwhile, Dwayne Smith’s second century of CPL 2017 kept the playoff hopes afloat for Barbados Tridents as they held off a furious charge from St. Lucia Stars to win by 29 runs at Kensington Oval.
Rahkeem Cornwall’s adventurous 78 off 44 balls made the Tridents’ bowling unit sweat in defence of 195 for 4 but his curious decision to retire hurt in the 18th over — he had been hit in the stomach by a Kieron Pollard short ball in the 16th over — with 49 needed off the last 17 balls was a symbolic moment for the downtrodden franchise as Stars became the first team in CPL history to record a winless season.
Coming out of their 59 all out debacle against Guyana Amazon Warriors two nights earlier, Tridents made a few strategic changes to the batting order in an effort to right the ship. Most significantly, Nicholas Pooran was promoted to open, with Kane Williamson dropped down to No. 3 to accommodate the feisty wicketkeeper.
While it didn’t have the desired effect for Williamson, who was later stumped down the leg side off Cornwall for 2, Pooran wound up making a season-best 32 off 20 balls. The left-hander thumped four fours and two sixes in the Power play, including an audacious one-handed tennis backhand over the extra-cover rope. He perished attempting it again, skying a slower ball off Obed McCoy for an easy catch in the region of point for wicketkeeper Andre Fletcher.
Smith played second fiddle to Pooran early in his innings and took 44 balls to reach his half-century, but was drawn out of his shell by Shane Watson in the 14th over, striking him for four, six, four off the last three balls of the over. The last stroke was his most elegant, a marvelous cover drive after which he held his pose for the cameras. He showed he was still in a modeling mood in the 18th over, once again freezing his frame after another sumptuous cover drive off Kyle Mayers.
Only a floodlight failure stood in the way of triple figures with a 40-minute delay after the 19th over with Smith stuck on 90. When play resumed, it took him three balls to get on strike but he made his century with a ball to spare, smashing consecutive sixes over extra cover off Watson. His second fifty came in less than half the time as his first, as he moved from 50 to 100 in just 20 deliveries.
Despite losing Fletcher in the first over, Stars raced through the Power play behind a belligerent second-wicket partnership between Cornwall and Watson. Even after Watson fell for 22 off 17 in the sixth over, Cornwall continued undaunted, smashing Akeal Hosein’s left-arm spin for a pair of sixes in a 16-run seventh over. Stars were 92 for 2 in nine overs with Cornwall still striking at two runs per ball, though Christopher Barnwell spilled a basic chance five yards inside the long-off rope with Cornwall on 40 in the ninth over.
A key sequence occurred from overs 10 through 12 as captain Kieron Pollard lassoed Cornwall and Johnson Charles’ scoring. Tridents conceded just eight runs across the three overs with Pollard giving up just five across the 10th and the 12th while snaring Charles at deep midwicket. Cornwall got to his fifty off 26 balls but the required run rate, which had been manageable to that point, jumped from 9.45 to 12.
Pollard then returned for his last over in the 16th and conceded just two singles off the first five balls before Cornwall took him for six over deep midwicket, leaving the equation at 51 runs needed off 24 balls. Despite not taking Cornwall’s wicket, Pollard’s fourth delivery more or less served the same purpose when he pinged Cornwall in the mid-section.
Initially, the batsman was okay to continue but Cornwall wound up facing just five more deliveries. A delay ensured he faced one ball in the 18th over before deciding he could no longer continue. Pollard was unimpressed with Cornwall’s inability to fight through the pain, not to mention unsympathetic, and he gave the Stars batsman a verbal spray on his way off the field. Stars’ hopes for a win faded soon after.