Bridgetown, Barbados: The Barbados Tridents made the most of home advantage against the St. Lucia Zouks as they scored the highest total of this year’s Limacol Caribbean Premier League to set up a comprehensive victory. A century from local man Dwayne Smith was the star performance, the second hundred of this edition of the tournament. Having been set such a daunting target, the Zouks never looked like reaching it under the Kensington Oval lights. The Tridents’ victory keeps them in touch with the leading teams, but the Zouks’ third successive loss leaves them struggling.
Smith was in fine form from the first over, destroying the left arm spin of Roelof van der Merwe, as he hit 18 runs off the South African to give the Tridents an excellent start. The second over saw Sohail Tanvir pick up the wicket of Shane Dowrich for a golden duck before rain took the teams off the field. A relatively short delay saw no overs lost, and when the game got back under way, Smith was joined by Shoaib Malik.
An excellent over from Darren Sammy at the end of the power play checked the progress of the home side slightly, but not for long as they reached 78 for one at the half way stage. A platform had been put in place for a big total, with Smith looking to make the most of the base he had set. The Bajan opener reached his half century of just 39 balls and he always looked like going very big.
Smith’s partnership of 110 with Malik was the perfect contrast in styles. While Smith is booming bat and big shots, Malik is about glides and touches that he times to the boundary. With his team mate going so well, Malik was more than happy to give the strike to Smith, but the Pakistani was capable of finding the ropes. One cut shot off Tino Best travelled so fast, it was a blur as it left the bat. The next ball was a slower one that was just as sweetly timed by Malik for another four.
That over cost Best 16 runs, but also brought him Malik’s wicket. This was not without controversy as the two men shared some angry words as the batsman headed back to the dressing rooms. A timely intervention from Zouks captain, Sammy, helped to calm things down as he explained to his bowler that he was crossing the line.
While the kerfuffle took place, Smith carried on as before, bringing up his century with a six over mid wicket off the 68th ball he faced, the penultimate delivery of the innings. He repeated the feat off the last ball to finish on 110 not out. It was Smith’s highest score in T20 cricket and the first ever hundred in this format at the Kensington Oval. He was ably supported at the death by his captain, Kieron Pollard, who finished on an undefeated 18.
A target of 187 was always going to be difficult for the Zouks, but Johnson Charles made a good fist of it in the opening exchanges. In the second over, he hit a “helicopter” shot for six that India captain, MS Dhoni, would be proud of. If the Zouks were going to get close, they would need one of the openers to bat for the majority of the innings. A bullet throw from Ravi Rampaul that hit the stumps from well over 40 yards away ran out Charles by a few feet, so ending his hopes of fulfilling that role.
That left the responsibility of managing the chase with Henry Davids, and he was lucky not to depart inside the power play as Jonathan Carter failed to hold on to a difficult catch off the bowling of Jason Holder. The South African opener failed to make the most of his life, hitting the ball straight into the hands of Dwayne Smith on the leg side boundary for Holder to claim his wicket for 22. It was a stop start knock as he struggled to dominate the Tridents bowling in the way Smith had managed in the opposition’s innings.
The Zouks players struggled to go at better than a run a ball as some excellent Tridents bowling first from Holder, and then from Rayad Emrit, meant that a climbing required rate and falling wickets made victory a forlorn hope. When Darren Sammy departed second ball without scoring, even forlorn hopes were missing.
A very expensive over from Akeal Hosein that went for 20 gave the Zouks a glimmer, but it was always too little, too late. Keddy Lesporis played a mature innings of 50 not out, and an entertaining cameo from Tanvir of 38 off 18 balls gave the visitors something to cheer, even if it didn’t give them victory.