St Lucia Zouks 165 for 6 (Fletcher 36, Sammy 30, Hafeez 3-22, Joseph 2-20) beat St Kitts and Nevis Patriots 145 for 9 (Hafeez 29, Viljoen 3-14, Williams 3-48) by 20 runs
An all-round show kept St Lucia Zouks' playoff hopes alive as they jumped from the bottom of the points table to the fourth spot with a 20-run win over St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in Gros Islet. Zouks went past Barbados Tridents and Jamaica Tallawahs and now have five points from seven games.
After being put in, Zouks raced to 70 for 1 in seven overs before Mohammad Hafeez pegged them back with three quick wickets. Darren Sammy's 30 off 19 balls though ensured they finished strongly, on 165 for 6.
In contrast, Patriots started slow and were always lagging behind. While they had eight wickets in hand, the asking rate had climbed to ten runs per over at the halfway stage. Searching for quick runs, they slipped from 80 for 2 to 103 for 7 in the space of 19 balls and there was no coming back. Hardus Viljoen picked up 3 for 14 from his four overs, including a wicket-maiden, while Kesrick Williams finished with 3 for 48.
Zouks off to flying start
Openers Andre Fletcher and Rahkeem Cornwall gave Zouks a quick start with a combination of good fortune and attractive strokeplay. The first over of the innings, bowled by Jeremiah Louis, went for 15 with Fletcher getting two lucky fours to fine leg off big inswingers and Cornwall flicking one over deep midwicket for a six.
The duo followed it with a six each in the next two overs before Alzarri Joseph bowled Cornwall off an inside edge in the fourth over. Colin Ingram hit Rayad Emrit for a six and a four off successive balls in the next over and Fletcher lofted Hafeez down the ground for another six in the last over of the Powerplay. Fletcher got two more fours to fine leg in Emrit's next over and the platform was set for a big total.
Hafeez comes to the fore before Sammy show
The offspinner brought his experience into play to get both Fletcher and Ingram stumped. To Fletcher he slipped one down the leg side when the batsman came out of his crease whereas to Ingram, Hafeez pushed the ball wide outside off to leave the batsman halfway down the track.
Colin de Grandhomme flicked one lazily to be caught well inside the deep midwicket boundary as Hafeez finished his spell with figures of 3 for 22. Five balls later, legspinner Keron Cottoy bowled Andre McCarthy around his legs to reduce Zouks to 101 for 5 in the 13th over. Sammy and Chris Barnwell revived the innings with a 56-run stand in just 5.5 overs. In the 17th over, Sammy struck two fours and six off Emrit, whereas Carlos Brathwaite leaked 14 in the next as Zouks went past 150. Joseph and Brathwaite pulled things back a bit by conceding five and seven runs respectively in the last two overs to keep Zouks within 170.
Patriots' sluggish first half
Helped by as many as six wides, Patriots reached 28 for 0 at the end of three overs but Viljoen pegged them back by dismissing Evin Lewis in the fourth over. Devon Thomas was bowled in the next over while trying to pull left-arm spinner Jeavor Royal, leaving Patriots on 31 for 2. Laurie Evans tried to break the shackles and hit Royal over deep midwicket and extra cover for a couple of sixes, but despite that Patriots could only reach 66 for 2 at the halfway mark.
Williams dents the chase further
Rain stopped play for ten minutes after 11.4 overs with Patriots 12 runs behind the par score. After play resumed, Williams dented them further with a double-wicket over. First, he had Evans caught-and-bowled with a slower one and then trapped Fabian Allen lbw with the ball thudding into the batsman's back pad before he could bring his bat down. With the required rate mounting, Brathwaite tried to take on Fawad Ahmed, only to sky a googly towards midwicket where substitute Kavem Hodge took a good catch running in from the deep.
Needing 72 from 36 balls with five wickets down, the incoming batsmen couldn't cope with the pressure. Shamarh Brooks fell to Viljoen for 7 and on the next ball, Fawad took a return catch to send Hafeez back. At 103 for 7 and still requiring 63 from 29 balls, the result was all but decided.
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo