Basseterre, St. Kitts – For the first time, the St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots have booked a spot in the playoff round of the Caribbean Premier League, despite a rain-affected home stand at Warner Park.

In the first game Friday evening, the Patriots took on the Barbados Tridents. Patriots captain Chris Gayle won the toss and elected to field.

The powerful Dwayne Smith gave the Tridents a fast start, powering them to 50 in the power play, but they also lost three wickets in the process, including Smith for 33 off just 16 balls. They quickly lost Barnwell soon after and needed some stability to their innings, which came through captain Kieron Pollard and Nicolas Pooran, who put on 57 for the sixth wicket and carry the team to 146-6 from 18 overs. When Pooran departed for 20, Pollard then took charge in the innings and smashed his second half century of the tournament, stroking 63 off 40 balls as his team posted a competitive 168-6 from their 20 overs.

Starring with the ball for the Patriots was Samuel Badree, who collected two wickets for 27 in his four overs. With the threat of rain a possibility, the Patriots knew that a fast start was compulsory in order to ensure that the are ahead on Duckworth/Lewis in the event seven overs in their innings had been completed.

The Patriots then lost Lewis in the first over, but the innings were soon stabilized by the experience heads of Gayle and Mohamed Haffeez, who kept the scoreboard ticking over a steady pace. However, the sky finally broke with 9.3 overs bowled and the score 84-1. Though valiant attempts were made by members of the ground staff to get the ground back to playing shape, the rain persisted and foiled the completion of the innings.

The Patriots were declared winners on Duckworth/Lewis method as they needed to be at 68 at the time of the rain.

On the following evening, the Patriots face the St. Lucia Stars, but again rain proved to be the winner with only 8.1 overs being able to be completed in the game. At the time of the rain, the Stars team was 46-1 after being asked to bat first. Both teams received a point following the abandonment.

On Monday, the defending champion Jamaica Tallawahs came into town and suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of the Patriots. Tallawahs won the toss and asked the Patriots to have first knock, which, in retrospect, proved to be a bad decision as Patriots Gayle and Lewis took apart their bowling attack bit by bit. Lewis smashed 69 from 39 deliveries, while Gayle had a more measured 71 from 55 as he bat through the entire innings and provided a platform from which the big hitters can benefit.

Carlos Brathwaite and Mohamed Nabi chipped in with 26 and 29 respectively as the Patriots posted 208-3 from their 20 overs.

In response, the Tallawahs innings failed to gather any momentum as the Patriots’ mammoth total proved to be too much of a task for the visitors, who could only muster 171-7 in their 20 overs on the back of 41 from Trevor Griffith.

Leading the way for the Patriots was Tabraiz Shamzi, who collected three wickets for 35 runs as the home side recorded a 37-run victory and march into the playoffs for the first time

Following that game, the Patriots’ Carlos Brathwaite spoke to members of the media, saying the win was the most important thing to ensure that the team had qualified for the playoffs. “The fans came out and have been giving us support from ball one,” he said, “and we want to come out and give them another win on Wednesday and hopefully finish in the top two and get two chances in the final.”

Brathwaite, who has been with the franchise since its inception, spoke to what has been different this year compared to last.

“We have a very good family vibe in the dressing room,” he said. “Everybody feels like a family and it can be seen. We dropped a few catches that we are not proud of, but someone is always there to give a helping hand. I had a mess up with the ball in Trinidad and no one came down hard.”

In the final game at Warner Park, the Patriots were once again asked to bat first against the Trinbago Knightriders, and once again, Gayle and Lewis proved thorns to the opposition. Lewis was the aggressor earlier on in the innings, beating 39 of just 14 balls. Shortly after his departure, there was a delay due to a power failure isolated to Warner Park, but as officials tried to sort out the delay, a shower of rain also ensued.

However, when it all had settled, the game was reduced to 18 over per side and Gayle aimed to take the score as much as possible in those reduced conditions, but rain continued to frustrate as another delay occurred.

The game was again reduced to 13 overs per side. Gayle then changed another gear, smashing the bowlers all around the park and stroking 93 from 47 deliveries during an inning that including 8 towering sixes that forced a change in ball on numerous occasion.

Gayle’s innings powered the Patriots to a indomitable 162 from 13 overs. In response, the Patriots quickly restricted the visitors to 34-2 from 3.1 overs when the rains returned yet again. The brief shower forced another reduction to just 6 overs and the Trinbago team needing 86 to win the encounter.

The rain break left conditions favourable for the batsmen as the Patriots bowlers had to contend with a wet ball. That was proven when the first three balls after the break were superbly hit into the stands by Darren Bravo. The following over also saw Nabi receiving the same treatment from Brendon McCullum, leaving just 10 needed from the final over. That over was bowled by Jonathon Carter, but Darren Bravo was in a bullish mood and thumped the first two ball of the over for six as the Knightriders cemented their spot as the top team in the CPL.

The Patriots will now travel to Jamaica and Barbados to play in their final two games before the playoffs in Trinidad and Tobago.