Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna
The experienced old pros of Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis and Dwayne Bravo may have helped propel St Kitts & Nevis Patriots into the 2021 CPL final, but it was the young guns - Dominic Drakes, Joshua Da Silva, Fabian Allen and Sherfane Rutherford - who got them over the line as the tournament host franchise chased down a target of 160 off the final ball to beat St Lucia Kings by three wickets for their first CPL title. Drakes shone brightest when it mattered most, striking an unbeaten 48 off 24 including the winning runs off the final ball.
The Patriots looked like they may have frittered away the final at 95 for 5 in the 14th over when Bravo fell to David Wiese. But Drakes produced an audacious death-hitting display to rally the Patriots in the last five overs. With 55 needed off 30 balls, Drakes pumped Wiese back over his head for six, then went inside-out over extra cover off Wahab Riaz to end the 17th, bringing the equation down to 31 off 18.
Kesrick Williams then made a costly error to start the 18th, bowling his first ball completely off the pitch for it to be ruled a no-ball, and Allen flicked the free hit past short fine leg for four. Allen fell to start the 19th, pulling Wahab to deep midwicket, but Drakes crossed with the ball in the air and delivered a hammer blow next ball with the shot of the day, spanking a short ball over the cover ropes again for six.
Starting the final over on strike with nine to win against Williams, it came down to five off two balls before Drakes powered another sizzling drive flat over extra-cover for a one-bounce four to level the scores. Williams speared in a yorker on the legs off the final ball of the match but Drakes was able to flick it away to short fine leg and scamper a tight single to clinch the championship.
The win was set up by a tidy bowling effort by the Patriots after the Kings had chosen to bat first at the toss. Rahkeem Cornwall (43 off 32 balls) and Roston Chase (43 off 40 balls) did well to help rebuild the innings after Andre Fletcher and Mark Deyal both fell cheaply in the powerplay. But Chase appeared to grow frustrated at being unable to capitalize on quick singles and twos while partnered with Cornwall at the crease. After Cornwall fell to Allen off the first ball after drinks to start the 11th, Chase was unable to kick on with either Wiese or Tim David, who both fell cheaply to spin. When Chase was bowled by Naseem Shah to end the 18th at 128 for 6, it looked like the Patriots would have an easy chase on their hands.
But Keemo Paul breathed life back into the match with an inspired cameo, clubbing three sixes off Drakes to start the 19th, and then another off Naseem in the final over to give Kings a late boost and a fighting chance. They continued that fight early in the second innings as Chase bowled Gayle with an arm ball for a duck before Wahab snuffed out the red-hot bat of Lewis with a short-ball trap to deep midwicket for 6.
But Da Silva and Rutherford rebuilt the chase with 37 and 25 respectively, building a bridge for the entry of Drakes. At a tournament which has traditionally had lopsided finals over the years with the result decided well before the final over, Drakes produced far and away the most thrilling CPL ending of all. From one win and a last-place finish in 2020, Patriots also capped arguably the most remarkable one-season turnaround in CPL history with their maiden championship.
Joshua Da Silva
St Kitts and Nevis Patriots
St Lucia Kings
Kings vs Patriots
Caribbean Premier League