St Lucia Zouks 174 for 9 (Sammy 59, Joseph 4-41) beat St Kitts & Nevis Patriots 139 for 9 (Du Plessis 48, Johnson 3-37) by 35 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Darren Sammy ran amok in the first match at the Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium, at Gros Islet, since it had been renamed in the honour of West Indies' World T20 winning captain. Sammy belted 59 off 35 balls, including five sixes and two fours, to lift St Lucia Zouks, coming off three successive losses, to a 35-run victory and knock St Kitts & Nevis Patriots out of contention for the knockouts.
Coming in at the fall of Michael Hussey at a precarious 83 for 4, halfway into the 12th over, Sammy set to work by launching a straight six off legspinner Samuel Badree. He then hit Jonathan Carter for two boundaries in the following over. David Miller was bowled by a Krishmar Santokie cutter for 11 off 19 balls, but the dismissal hardly dented Sammy's momentum.
Sammy carted Santokie for back-to-back sixes before raising his first half-century off the tournament off 32 balls, with a drilled four down the ground. Sammy celebrated the landmark by kissing the turf and bowing to the crowd. He top edged fast bowler Alzarri Joseph to long leg in the final over, but by then Zouks had passed 160. Joseph finished well with three wickets off the last four balls of Zouks' innings.
Joseph had started positively as well, taking a tumbling catch at third man off Sheldon Cottrell to dismiss Andre Fletcher in the second over. He then struck with his first ball to limit the contribution of Johnson Charles, who has a stand named after him at this ground, to 25 off 14 balls. Carter got rid of the Australian pair of Shane Watson and Hussey, but Sammy ensured his side ended with a competitive 174.
That total began to look bigger when Patriots' openers - Lendl Simmons and Evin Lewis - fell within the Powerplay in the chase. JJ Smuts (30) and captain Faf du Plessis (48) counter-punched, but the scoreboard pressure was too much for the visitors. They lost their last five wickets for 13 runs and ultimately fell short by 35.
Left-arm seamer Delorn Johnson was the pick of the bowlers for Patriots with figures of 3 for 37, while Sammy pitched in with the wicket of wicketkeeper Devon Thomas. The ticket prices had been slashed by 50% to celebrate the first game at the ground, and the crowd lapped up Sammy's all-round show.
The night had begun with Sammy and Charles walking through a guard or honour, and it ended with Sammy bagging the Man-of-the-Match award. The win dragged Zouks up from the bottom of the points table. They face Barbados Tridents next at the same venue on Saturday and Guyana Amazon Warriors on Sunday. Patriots have a week-long break before taking on Trinbago Knight Riders at Lauderhill on July 29.
"It was a big day for Darren [Sammy] and it was important for the guys to get the win... It has been a frustrating campaign for the Zouks, and we have had rain, we played out games with breaks between games, it was tricky," Morne Morkel, who took 1 for 29, said after the match. "As a bowling unit, we rely on a lot of rhythm. Hopefully, with us playing at home with back-to-back games, we will get that sort of rhythm."