North Sound, Antigua – Marlon Samuels took centre stage on Tuesday night as he got Jamaica’s Caribbean T20 campaign off to a superb start with a two-wicket win over Combined Campuses & Colleges at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.

Marlon Samuels salutes the Jamaica fans in the crowd.

With wickets falling all around him and time running out, Samuels held his nerve to stroke 66 not out off 52 balls and win the Star of the Match award. Jamaica were at one stage 106-8 with 11 balls left. Samuels then went into overdrive and the next 27 runs came off eight balls as his side made 133-8 to win with three balls to spare.

Samuels, who celebrated his 31st birthday last week, ended the match with his fifth six – a massive straight hit off Herman Henry which disappeared into the South side pavilion. After the match the right-hander said he was quite pleased with his performance.

“I never panicked. It looked like a difficult situation to most people but I never panicked. What I wanted was someone to stay there with me and look to rotate the strike but that did not happen. So, when I came down to the end, I knew I had to finish the job for my team. I backed myself to play the big shots and we got a good victory,” said Samuels.

“This is the first match for us this year and the first time on this pitch. It (pitch) is a bit slower than what we got when we were here last year, so we will go back and do an assessment of this match and see where we need to get better. Last year I made the most runs and we did not win the tournament. This year, I want to double that – get the most runs, go into the finals in Barbados, and win it all for Jamaica.”

Earlier in the night, CCC’s ‘keeper Chadwick Walton made a career-best 66 off 59 balls as his side reached 131-9 off their 20 overs. For Jamaica left-arm seamer Krishmar Santokie took 4-17 off his four overs.

“I was a wonderful innings by Chadwick for CCC. He did not carry on however, and we got his wicket at a vital stage in the match. It was a good bowling performance by the Jamaica bowlers, a wonderful comeback which kept us in the game,” Samuels said.

The victory gave Jamaica four points and took them to the top of Group B alongside Sussex who earlier in the day beat Netherlands by 34 runs. The Star of the Match award went to Dutch seamer Timm van der Gugten, who took career-best 5-21 off his four overs.

The CT20 continues on Wednesday at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground with the second round Group A matches. Windward Islands face Canada at 4 pm (3 pm Jamaica Time) while home team Leeward Islands take on defending champs Trinidad & Tobago at 8 pm (7 pm Jamaica Time).