Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
St Lucia Zouks 169 for 6 (Cornwall 51, Viljoen 32, Imran Khan 2-34) beat Jamaica Tallawahs 165 for 7 (Dwayne Smith 58, Williams 3-24, Santokie 2-31) by four wickets
Rahkeem Cornwall's blistering 25-ball 51 followed by sensational hitting from Darren Sammy ensured St Lucia Zouks knocked Jamaica Tallawahs out of the race for the CPL 2019 playoffs. A 38-ball 58 from Dwayne Smith had headlined Tallawahs' 165 for 7 and even though they made the hosts huff and puff towards the end of the chase, Zouks' 11 sixes were too much to handle for them.
Zouks are now only one point behind third-placed St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, with both teams left with a match each. Barbados Tridents, in fifth spot, still have two games in hand and could also make the playoffs, being only one point behind Zouks.
With rain around the corner in Gros Islet on Friday night, Zouks needed 35 off 30 with five wickets in hand. Sammy had yet to get off the mark while his partner Chris Barnwell adopted a cautious approach, tiptoeing to 5 off seven deliveries. A six-run over from medium pacer Shamar Springer did little to help.
The Khans - Zahir and Imran - tightened the screws further as the next two overs gave away only ten runs without a single boundary, and fetched Zahir a reward for his persistence with the around-the-off stump line, in the form of Barnwell's wicket. The momentum, however, swung Zouks' way decisively as Springer strode in to bowl his last over, the 19th of the innings.
Sammy sizzles in the nervous 19th
With 19 needed off 12, Springer began with two wides down leg to the left-hander Krishmar Santokie. He then came over the wicket to bowl the first legal delivery of the over, which Santokie nudged to point for a risky single as Sammy put in a desperate dive at the wicketkeeper's end to get home.
Back on strike, Sammy swung the next ball over cow corner for a six to bring the equation ten in ten. Springer followed it with a high full toss, meaning the slog-sweep that Trevon Griffith pouched at deep midwicket came off a no-ball. Sammy, however, decided against taking a single to keep strike for the free-hit, but Springer slipped in a yorker for a dot ball.
Two singles off the next two deliveries preluded the defining six of the innings as Sammy bludgeoned a waist-high full toss over the roof beyond midwicket. Scores level. And first ball of the 20th over, Kesrick Williams, the most successful bowler on the night, struck a powerful drive over extra cover for four to seal the game.
Smith, Williams sparkle, Zouks fielders fluff chances
Zouks' decision to bowl paid dividends to some degree, thanks to a three-for from Williams and Fawad Ahmed's miserly none for 22. Tallawahs' openers - Chris Gayle and Glenn Phillips - scored a combined 52 off 41 deliveries, with Gayle scoring 29 off 30, but they got to 60 for 1 by the end of the Powerplay after Hardus Viljoen bounced out Phillips for an 11-ball 23 in the fifth over.
Smith was involved in stands of 36 with Gayle and then 56 with Liton Das, hammering three sixes and six fours en route his 38-ball 58, but with three lifelines. Jeavor Royal handed him a reprieve on 14 off Cornwall in the eighth over, shelling a flat catch at deep square-leg. The next two chances came off back-to-back deliveries - first off Royal and then Santokie, across the 11th and 12th overs. Santokie made a hash of a straightforward chance at extra cover while Colin de Grandhomme made it look even worse the following delivery, spilling a top-edged pull despite settling under it after running in from square leg. Smith brought up his first fifty of this CPL, off 30 balls, before holing out to long-on in the 17th over, just after Williams had taken a return catch to send Liton back for a run-a-ball 21, leaving Tallawahs on 140 for 4.
Santokie and Williams did well to contain the lower order by conceding only 22 in the last three overs. Santokie gave away only four in the last over, ending with 2 for 31, with the wickets of Chadwick Walton and Ramaal Lewis in consecutive overs.
Between his last half-century this CPL, that goes back to September 12 and the one on Friday, Cornwall scored 6, 13, 8, 8 and 5, and also went wicketless in his last three matches. But he struck form with a smashing half-century on the night, oozing oodles of his trademark belligerence.
All five of his sixes came in the arc between long-on and deep midwicket, some clearing the boundary rider by up to ten yards, others flying over the roof, out of the stadium and into the car park. He contributed 30 to the opening stand of 49 - that ended in the fourth over - with Andre Fletcher, whose eight-ball 17 was not bereft of fireworks either. With Colin Ingram, Cornwall put on 30 off 3.1 overs, and by the time he departed, Zouks had raced away to 79 in seven overs, setting a strong platform for the middle and lower order.
St Lucia Zouks
Tallawahs vs Zouks
Caribbean Premier League