Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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St Kitts & Nevis Patriots 70 for 3 (Thomas 38*, Hodge 1-1) beat St Lucia Stars 69 (Ahmad 24, Cottrell 3-14, Lamichhane 2-13) by seven wickets
After shellacking 226 - the highest total in the CPL - and snapping their 14-match losing streak on Friday, St Lucia Stars returned to their old ways, folding for 69 in 12.3 overs against St Kitts & Nevis Patriots at the Darren Sammy Stadium. Notably, this was the shortest innings and the third-lowest total in the league.
It was seamer Sheldon Cottrell and spinners Mahmudullah and Sandeep Lamichhane who had skittled Stars by collecting seven wickets among them. Wicketkeeper-batsman Devon Thomas, who was promoted to the top in place of captain Chris Gayle, then hastened the victory, with an unbeaten 38 off 21 balls, in a game that barely lasted 20 overs.
Stars fade away
In their previous two matches at Gros Islet, Stars had amassed 226 and 212. But Tuesday's pitch was a bit two-paced and even lent assistance to spin. Andre Fletcher launched the first ball over wide long-on for a big six, but it turned out to be a red herring. Three balls later, he scooped an innocuous low full-toss back to Cottrell, the bowler. Stars' batsmen lurched from one poor shot to another, while Gayle sat back and kept himself at slip through the innings.
Bangladesh's Mahmudullah, who took the new ball from the other end, had Rakheem Cornwall chipping a catch to mid-off in his first over and then had Lendl Simmons stumped in his second - a wicket-maiden.
The onus was on Kieron Pollard and David Warner to rescue the Stars, but they too couldn't deal with the two-paced surface and Patriots' relentless accuracy. Pollard laboured to 4 off 10 balls, before being undone by Cottrell's extra bounce. Later, in the post-match presentation, Cottrell revealed that Patriots' plan was to hit hard lengths against Pollard and cramp him for room.
Warner, who had faced all of eight balls in the Powerplay, himself fell, when he was duped by a wrong'un from Lamichhane in the ninth over. Stars were 49 for 5 at that point.
Afghanistan's Qais Ahmad, who had turned 18 last week, was more confident against Mahmudullah and Lamichhane, taking two sixes and a four off them. All told, he was the only Stars batsman to pass 15. However, he was dismissed in the 12th over, when Lamichhane drew him out of the crease with a loopy legbreak. In the next over, Cottrell had No. 11 Obed McCoy nicking off to provide the coup de grace.
Devon Thomas sparkles
After effecting four dismissals behind the stumps - the joint-most in a CPL innings alongside Kumar Sangakkara - Thomas was bumped up to open the batting alongside Evin Lewis, who had managed only four runs in five T20 innings prior to Tuesday's game. Lewis' lean patch continued, as he was bounced out by Mitchell McClenaghan for 13, but Thomas reeled off three boundaries off McCoy in the arc between backward point and mid-off. He went onto smear Kesrick Williams for a flat six over extra-cover, and added 30 off 17 balls with Brandon King.
King and Tom Cooper were dismissed in successive overs, but Thomas and Anton Devcich eventually sealed Stars' fate, with seven wickets and 74 balls to spare.