St Kitts & Nevis Patriots 84 for 1 (Gayle 38*, Hafeez 30*) beat Barbados Tridents 168 for 6 (Pollard 63*, Badree 2-27) by 17 runs (DLS method)
An error-strewn performance from Barbados Tridents cost them victory despite a highly mature half-century from their captain Kieron Pollard. Good as his unbeaten 63 was, it couldn't paper over the mistakes of his top-order batsmen, and started becoming a footnote around the time his opening bowler Akeal Hosein started the chase by bowling five wides in a row.
In the end, it was a happy (second) homecoming for Chris Gayle, playing his first game in Basseterre wearing a St Kitts & Nevis Patriots shirt. With rain ending a lopsided contest early, in favour of his team by 17 runs, he could even get to the party with energy to spare.
Three of the four totals above 200 in the CPL were made at Warner Park, and the pitch on Friday fostered thoughts of another. A little bit of moisture and even covering of grass ensured the ball came onto the bat. However, the Patriots denied that advantage to the Tridents by using their spinners for seven out of the first 10 overs. Samuel Badree bowled out, bowling over Dwayne Smith and Chris Barnwell in the process. Mohammad Nabi and Tabraiz Shamsi followed his lead, attacking the stumps on a fuller than good length, giving no room for the batsman to draw power from. As a result, the scoreboard reflected only 79 for 4.
The power player
At the start of the 15th over, Pollard was 15 off 20 balls. He wasn't even trying to hit the ball, with so much of his concentration in trying to stay till the end. Dinks and nudges and clips and dabs made up the first half of his knock, during a partnership of 27 off 32 balls with Shoaib Malik. Regardless of the run-rate, it was a crucial passage of play, offering the Tridents captain some sort of a foundation to take off from. A straight six, and a beastly pull, both for six, signalled the start of something special. And sure enough, Pollard's full range of stand-and-deliver shots was put on show, with the front-foot bludgeons over long-on and midwicket hogging the limelight. Only one of the last six overs cost less than 10 runs.
The many malfunctions
Earlier in the day, Kane Williamson was caught the next ball after hitting a six. Dwayne Smith committed the same mistake. Malik was half the player he usually is because he was battling a sore ankle. He could have been lbw for 9, but umpire Johan Cloete wouldn't give in to the appeal. He could have been caught for 24, but countryman Mohammad Hafeez spilled a tough chance. He tried hard but 29 off 30 was not a good return for a batsman at No. 4.
So, too, was packing 11 balls into the first over of a tight chase. Hosein, plying his left-arm spin into the hitting arc of Gayle, and perhaps told to cramp him on leg stump, kept pitching the ball too straight and watching it spin past the batsman. He was nervous. He was then hit for six. And somehow, he still found a wicket off a ball that would surely have been another wide had Evin Lewis chosen to leave it.
The same script continued for the rest of the innings, with full tosses being whacked for boundaries, and simple run-out chances being missed. Gayle nudged Hosein to short fine leg and strode out of his crease thinking a single was on, and Shamar Springer at fine leg got to the ball quickly enough. But having done so, his throw was so wayward instead of going to the wicketkeeper, it wandered out to deep midwicket. The Patriots captain was on 27 at the time. He gathered 11 more runs before bad weather set in and eradicated all chances of further play.