The Caribbean Premier League is reaching its final stages and Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel are emerging as the most likely team to challenge champions Jamaica Tallawahs for the title.
Evin Lewis and Kevin O’Brien smashed a hapless St. Lucia Zouks bowling unit as Red Steel scored a nine-wicket win. Red Steel fans were in typical boisterous volume at their home ground Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain on Sunday.
The pair erased the Caribbean Premier League first-wicket partnership record set 24 hours earlier by Martin Guptill and Lendl Simmons of the Guyana Amazon Warriors by adding 129 at the start of the Red Steel chase.
Red Steel reached the target of 137 with 32 balls to spare, just one ball short of equaling the fastest chase of CPL 2014 made by the Jamaica Tallawahs who were set 97 to win against the Antigua Hawksbills two weeks ago.
The Zouks decided to bat first when they won the toss. Leg spinner Samuel Badree set the tone by removing both openers, Johnson Charles stumped for 15 after being beaten in flight coming down the track and Andre Fletcher for 4 swinging across the line to a full delivery to mark Badree’s 100th wicket in Twenty20 matches.
Zouks struggled to piece together a decent partnership with their best stand coming from Tonito Willett and Darren Sammy, who added 27 runs for the fifth wicket.
Sammy’s efforts to provide a late surge were stunted by three run-outs in the final overs.
He still managed an innings-high 46 not out off 35 balls including four sixes but the final total of 136 for 9 was never going to be enough against a stacked Red Steel batting lineup on a tame pitch.
Under captain Dwayne Bravo, Red Steel reclaimed first place in their group, moving two points clear of the Amazon Warriors with 10 points from five wins.
Zouks remain without a win and aim to turn their fortunes around on Thursday when the CPL carnival arrives at Beausejour Stadium in St. Lucia.
Zouks play their first home game of the season that evening against the Barbados Tridents.