The Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel took the lead on the Limacol Caribbean Premier League standings following their victory over the defending champions the Jamaica Tallawahs by 13 runs in front of another full house at Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, yesterday.
After missing the two previous matches, Evin Lewis returned to the Red Steel starting line-up with a bang, smashing eight sixes and two fours in his 43-ball 72 to power the home team to an impressive 183 for five in their allotted 20 overs after they were asked to take first strike.
Kevin O’Brien then grabbed four wickets for 22 runs in three overs to halt the Tallawah’s winning streak as the visitors replied with 170 for six despite Chris Gayle’s 26-ball 60 and Andre Russell’s unbeaten 40 off 17 balls towards the end of the chase.
O’Brien also got the hosts on their way with the bat with a 21-ball 32 which included a six each off Daniel Vettori and Jaun Theron, and three fours before the Irishman was bowled by Russell in the sixth over with the score on 44.
Ross Taylor failed to capitalise on the rapid start, as he continued to struggle at home, falling in the same over for his second “duck” in as many matches.
That is when Darren Bravo walked out to bat to a big roar from the fans. While he took his time to play himself in, Lewis went on the attack, going after Tallawahs skipper Gayle with his first six--pulled over mid-wicket—and two fours which resulted from misfields on the boundary by Nikita Miller and Jerome Taylor.
Lewis smacked Gale for two more sixes to take the score to 89 for two after 11 overs before lashing Vettori for three sixes down the ground in the 13th to bring up his first CPL half century and take the Red Steel past the 100-run mark.
The left-hander was eventually caught by Adam Voges off Theron at the deep cover boundary as he attempted another big shot.
Bravo then tried to keep things going but was denied a six by thanks to an acrobatic save from Russell.
The Jamaican dived over the ropes, caught the ball and threw it back before even touching the ground.
Darren smacked Miller for six over deep midwicket to take the score to 145 for three but he was bowled by Theron in the next over. He finished with a run-a-ball 30.
Dwayne Bravo, who came to the middle with a similar roar from the fans, chipped in with two sixes and a four in a 18-ball 24 while Javon Searles closed off the innings in style two sixes off the last over from Taylor which went for 20 runs.
Gayle then led the Tallawahs reply, smashing three sixes and five fours in his 60 off 46 balls which kept the Tallawahs’ hopes alive until O’Brien intervened to put the hosts firmly in control.
Gayle smashed Samuel Badree for three fours in the second over of the chase and kept the innings going with a 76-run stand for the second wicket with Jermaine Blackwood who hit 28 off 26 balls with two sixes and two fours.
O’Brien broke the stand in the 12th over when Blackwood was caught by Taylor in the covers with the score on 97.
The Irishman struck twice in the 14th to put his team on top, sending back Gayle who was caught on the deep midwicket boundary by Taylor with the score on 121. Adam Voges skied a catch for the bowler off the next ball and the Red Steel were in command.
Russell and gave the visitors a late flurry, hitting Edwards for two sixes off the penultimate over to bring the equation down to 33 needed off the final over and even though Russell counted three sixes off Bravo in the final six balls, the Red Steel skipper did just enough to seal a table-topping win.