The Red Steel overseas stars Kevin O’Brien and Ross Taylor made light work of the Antigua Hawksbills’ bowling attack in their clash yesterday in the Limacol Caribbean Premier League at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.
Red Steel, set 152 to win in their allotted 20 overs, got to the target with 17 balls to spare in winning by nine wickets. The Dwayne Bravo-led squad first took regular wickets throughout the Hawksbills innings, preventing them from building any telling momentum. The Marlon Samuels-captained team only managed 151 for eight in their 20 overs.
In their chase, the Red Steel’s O’Brien (Ireland) and Ross Taylor (New Zealand) both registered undefeated half centuries in an unbroken partnership of 145, the highest of the tournament to date.
O’Brien was brutal on anything wide inside the Powerplay, and while he swung and missed regularly, he also kept the scoreboard ticking over. Taylor showed all of his class cutting and driving the bad balls to the boundary.
As O’Brien attacked, Taylor worked the ball around to give strike back to the Irishman. By the halfway stage, the pair had seen their team to 75 for one, almost halfway to the target with nine wickets in hand. Samuels brought back Sheldon Cottrell, his most economical bowler, in the 11th over, in a last ditch attempt to find a wicket to bring them back into the game, but it was not forthcoming.
O’Brien’s 50 came up off just 29 balls as the decision by the Red Steel to move him up the order to open paid off in spades. He finished on 90 not out, with Taylor unbeaten on 51. The winning runs came from a bye as the ball evaded the Hawksbills wicket-keeper, DevonThomas.
Earlier, the Hawksbills innings began as it did in the previous match, with Danza Hyatt struggling to find scoring options against spin bowling. His tormentor-in-chief in this game was leg spinner Samuel Badree, who went for just 21 runs off his four overs.
Hyatt lost his wicket to the bowling of Fidel Edwards, scooping a short ball into the waiting gloves of wicket-keeper Nicolas Pooran, as the Hawksbills innings again failed to fire in the Powerplay. With this most recent defeat, the Hawksbills find themselves well adrift from the qualification spots. Their losing streak stretches to four matches and they will need a serious turnaround of fortunes to secure a semi-final berth.