Basseterre, St. Kitts – West Indies T20 captain Carlos Brathwaite has powered the St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots to a commanding start to the 2017 Caribbean Premier League (CPL).

The Patriots’ campaign began Aug. 6 with a four-wicket victory against the 2017 finalist Guyana Amazon Warriors in Lauderhill, Florida.

St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots captain Chris Gayle won the toss and chose to bowl. Amazon Warriors captain, Martin Guptill, got his team off to a fast start and stroked 23 from 14 balls and put the Patriots under pressure early in the game.

However, when Guptill fell to Badree, the Warriors found scoring opportunities difficult with Babbar Azam and Chadwick Walton at the crease. Looking for quick runs, Azam fell, which led to a plethora of Amazon Warriors wickets falling, leaving them reeling at 95-4 with little over three overs left.

Walton was a mainstay and tried to hold the innings together before he fell for 60 of 51 balls late in the innings looking for quick runs.

For the Patriots, Hasan Ali (2-19), Carlos Brathwaite (1-20) and Mohammad Nabi (0-17) starred with the ball as they all went at less than a run a ball and restricted the Amazon Warriors side to 123-7 of their allotted 20 overs.

In their run chase, however, the Patriots lost Evin Lewis with just two runs on the board before losing Gayle, who had shown some glimpses of what damage he can do at the top of the order. Gayle fell 15 and was shortly followed by Mohamed Hafeez, who got to 19. The run out of Devon Thomas and loss of Brandon King saw the Patriots struggling at 57-5.

However, a brilliant inning by Carlos Brathwaite, who was supported by Jonathon Carter, pulled the Patriots back into contention. Brathwaite slammed 31 off just 19 balls, smacking two 4s and three 6s. When he fell with the score on 106-6, the team was in a comfortable position to win the encounter.

Carter, who played a more measured inning of 29 off 31 balls, saw the game home to open their CPL campaign with a four-wicket win.

Hasan Ali was named Man of the Match for his bowling performance, and after the game he spoke to the media about his CPL debut.

“The pitch was a bit slow, so I was looking for dots, dots, dots,” he said. “I try to bowl like Waqar Younis, like his aggression and his swing. Trying to copy the legend.”

Captain Chris Gayle followed the game, hailing the bowlers for their performance.

“We’re happy to get over the line,” he said. “We bowled well to restrict them to 123; fantastic job from the bowlers. Would’ve preferred doing better with the bat, but this is T20 cricket. Happy with the win. What’s more important was getting the nerves out the way.”

On the following day (Aug. 7), both teams faced each other once again at that same venue, and in this encounter the Amazon Warriors won the toss and asked the Patriots to take first strike.

The Patriots once again lost Lewis early for four, again to Jacobs, and then lost Haffeez shortly after, with the team being restricted to 33-2 off 7 overs. However, an uncharacteristic inning by captain Chris Gayle partnered with Brandon King steadied the Patriots’ inning in difficult batting conditions and guided the team to 132 for 3 from their 20 overs.

Gayle scored 66 from 55 deliveries, his slowest T20 half century, and King stroked 39 off 35 balls.

Needing 133 for victory, the Amazon Warriors lost their openers early and were restricted to 12-2 off four overs.

A 45-run partnership between Jason Mohamed and Babar Azam got their inning back on course before they were disrupted with the loss of Azam.

However, Mohamed and Gajanand Singh looked determined to carry the Warriors to an easy victory.

The match turned in the 17th over when Mohamed, looking to hit Ali over the ropes, was robbed by an outstanding catch by substitute fielder Fabian Allen, who, at one point, was parallel to the ground in pulling off the outstanding catch to give the Patriots hope.

Sheldon Cottrell then had Keemo Paul caught behind in the 18th over to further give the Patriots a shot at victory.

Needing 8 of the final over, the Patriots took the shock decision to turn to Brathwaite to bowl the final over after he struggled with the ball earlier in the inning. He repaid the captain’s faith removing Singh and setting up two dot balls that led to run outs to power the Patriots to their second straight victory.

The Patriots are in action next in St. Lucia on Aug. 12 against the St. Lucia Stars.