Patriots' batting might trumps Phillips' 103 in eliminator
St Kitts and Nevis Patriots 193 for 8 (Devcich 50, Sodhi 3-36) beat Jamaica Tallawahs 191 for 5 (Phillips 103) by two wickets
Ben Cutting provided a sense of deja vu at Providence, striking a six off the penultimate ball to clinch a nailbiting two-wicket victory, the second time in two nights a win had been registered by that margin at this venue. This time, the result went in favour of St Kitts & Nevis Patriots, as the 2017 finalists knocked out Jamaica Tallawahs in a record-breaking chase.
Tallawahs had posted the highest-ever T20 total at Providence, making 191 for 5 on the back of a fantastic Glenn Phillips century. But the mark lasted less than two hours as Anton Devcich sparked a middle-order revival following Ish Sodhi's three-wicket haul. Cutting, who had dropped Phillips during the course of his century, then turned from goat to hero by smashing the decisive blow over the midwicket boundary to put Patriots on the plane to Trinidad, where they'll take on Trinbago Knight Riders on Friday night for the right to face Guyana Amazon Warriors in the final.
Phillips batted all 20 overs to become just the eighth batsman in CPL history to record a century, and just the second overseas batsman to do so, following in the footsteps of Colin Munro, another South African-born New Zealand international, who achieved it in 2016.
Phillips played second fiddle to his senior New Zealand team-mate, Ross Taylor, through the first half of the innings. After the fall of Johnson Charles, caught at backward point off Fabian Allen's left-arm spin in the third over, Taylor controlled a 70-run second-wicket stand with 33 off 23 balls, before being deceived by a slower ball from Cutting.
Phillips finally got his motor revving in the 13th over, bashing Cutting for two sixes and a four to bring up his half-century in the 20-run over. Rovman Powell fell in the following over, slogging Tabraiz Shamsi to Cutting at long-on, and Andre Russell didn't last long either, skying a catch to deep point off Carlos Brathwaite.
Phillips kicked on past 100 with a helping hand from Cutting, who spilled him on 79 at long-on off Shamsi. Phillips became more adventurous as he closed in on three figures, ramping Brathwaite over the wicketkeeper for four, before shuffling all the way across his stumps to a ball almost off the pitch outside off stump, and flaying it over wide long-on for six to move to 97. He brought up his century off 58 balls in the 18th over, cutting Shamsi behind point for a four.
However, Phillips lost steam thereafter, as a wheezing finish to the innings arguably cost them in the end. Phillips and David Miller added just 17 runs in the final two overs, underwhelming after the position they had got into, which made a record total suddenly appear far less daunting to chase.
Patriots' chase got off to a sluggish start as Devon Thomas was caught in the deep off Steven Jacobs in the second over. Sodhi continued to trouble the Patriots, striking twice in the 10th over. Rassie van der Dussen fell trying to force the pace, as he top-edged a slog sweep, which wicketkeeper Phillips collected by running to his right.
Chris Gayle drove straight to long-on two balls later to make it 62 for 3. When Allen creamed a flat, low chance that was expertly taken by Russell at long-on in the 14th over, Patriots needed 74 off the last 38 balls. Unfortunately for the Tallawahs, their most potent threat with the ball - Sodhi - was two balls away from finishing his spell.
With alarm bells ringing, and the season on the line, Devcich stepped up to steal the Man-of-the-Match award away from Phillips with a clinically-devastating spurt. Having swatted Jacobs for four and six over wide long-on in the 13th over, he pulled two fours off Colin de Grandhomme in a 17-run 15th over that took the required run rate down to 10 an over for the first time since the third over.
Devcich continued peppering the leg side by starting the 16th over with another pulled four off Russell, and brought up his half-century off 22 balls with a single later in the over. A double-strike by Oshane Thomas in the 17th over accounted for both Devcich and Brandon King, swinging the momentum Tallawahs' way before Cutting's heroics.
Cut through the heart
Tallawahs needed 27 off 12 balls with four wickets in hand, when Cutting's six over long-on off Thomas brought the equation down to 16 off eight balls. Lewis fell two balls after the six to another sharp effort from Russell on the boundary, and Powell was tossed the ball for the first time on the night to defend 14 off the final over.
Brathwaite followed a swing and a miss on the first ball with a six when he smashed a full toss over square leg. But Russell snapped up his third sensational low catch of the night, diving forward at long-on on the third ball, to leave Cutting on strike with nine needed off the last three balls.
The next ball arrived with the perfect width, just inside the tram lines outside off, but was controversially signalled wide. The decision appeared to rattle Powell, who followed it up with two more clear-cut wides. Cutting turned down a run to mid-on off the fourth legitimate delivery, putting the onus on himself, instead of tailender Hayden Walsh Jr, to get Patriots across the line. Another wide down leg was followed by a juicy length ball that was heaved over the midwicket rope to end the Tallawahs season and put the Patriots one win away from returning to the CPL final.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna