Basseterre, St. Kitts – The St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots still look in pole position to qualify for one of the four playoff spots on the Caribbean League despite suffering their first defeat of the tournament as they head home for a four-game home stand.
Having opened the first week with two victories over the Guyana Amazon Warriors in Lauderhill, Fla., the Patriots then flew to St. Lucia Aug. 12 to face the St. Lucia Stars, where they defeated the home team by 33 runs.
After losing the toss, the Patriots were asked to have first knock. The Patriots were then given a fast start from the left-handed pair of Captain Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis, with the duo scoring 35 runs from the first 16 balls of the innings.
However, when Gayle was undone by a brilliant yorker from Jerome Taylor, then shortly after lost Mohamed Hafeez for a first ball duck, the Patriots were humbled for 38-2. Lewis then went on a rampage as he tore into the Stars’ bowlers, smoking Taylor’s third over for 18, as well as consecutive sixes off the last two balls of the power play to propelled the Patriots to 73 for two of six overs.
Then, both Lewis and Brandon King both seemed content to regularly rotate the strike in the overs, immediately after the power play Lewis brought up his 50.
When King departed with the score of 109 off 12, they brought out the big-hitting Carlos Brathwaite to the crease, who along with Lewis, once again added life into the innings.
Lewis departed for 92 after a brief rain delay that saw him failing to find back his mojo after the break. The big hitting Brathwaite and Mohamed Nabi then provided a late flurry to power the team to 196-7 from their 20 overs. The pair played a part in scoring 46 runs from the final three overs of the innings, including eight boundaries with Brathwaite scoring 21 off 14 and Nabi scoring 24 not out off nine.
In response, the Patriots were put under pressure by the opening batsmen of the Stars, Andre Fletcher and Johnson Charles, as they took 31 from the first three overs. When the experienced Hafeez was introduced into the attack, he clawed the Patriots back into the inning picking up the first three wickets in his spell that only went for 22 runs to cripple the Stars’ run chase.
Some late hitting from Kyle Mayers and Rakeem Cornwall gave the Stars hope, but the ask was too out of reach for their side.
Hafeez’s performance was supported by Nabi, who four overs only went for 15 runs and he also collected three wickets as the Patriots moved to three wins from three.
On Monday, the Patriots took their good form to Trinidad, where they faced the Trinbago Knightriders. Batting first, the Patriots were only able to muster 158 for 7 off their 20 overs on the back of 37 from Shamar Brooks, who led the fight following the early departure of Chris Gayle.
The Patriots innings, however, failed to gather any momentum as they lost wickets regulary thanks to the heavy diet of spin provided by the host. In the latter part of the innings, cameos from Carlos Brathwaite and Mohamed Nabi provided the Patriots with a lift as they reached a respectable total.
Brathwaite smoked 19 off 12 balls, while Nabi hammered 17 off just eight. In response, the Knightriders were sluggish in their response and found themselves struggling at 89-5 of 14 overs. The hosts were rescued by the experienced pair of Dinesh Ramdin and Dwayne Bravo, who clawed their side back into the encounter. Ramdin smashed 59 off just 35 deliveries, including two 4s and four 6s, while Bravo hit 20 off 12 to set up what seemed like an unlikely victory by four wickets, handing the Patriots their first defeat.
Patriots Head Coach Phil Simmonds was asked ahead of the opening encounter at Warner Park about how the team’s momentum was affected following a defeat in their previous game.
“There is hardly any series you are going to go through and don’t have a loss,” he said. “The momentum is still there. We had a loss, but we have to pick ourselves back up and move on and that is the way we are going to look at it.”
Simmonds also indicated that during the last game late in the Trinbago innings, there was a difficulty for the bowlers to grip the ball, which played a role in the team’s performance.
“We watched the games before that, and the bowling in the last four overs in Trinidad, [and] in all those games, [gripping the ball] had been the most difficult thing in the tournament so far.”
The Patriots will now travel home to play the Barbados Tridents Friday.