St Lucia Stars 136 for 4 (Warner 42, Hemraj 37, Irfan 2-22) beat Barbados Tridents 135 for 7 (Amla 35, McCoy 2-24) by six wickets
Barbados Tridents completed a winless home stretch in CPL 2018, suffering their fifth straight loss to put themselves in danger of missing the playoffs for the third consecutive season as St Lucia Stars claimed a six-wicket win to keep their own marginal playoff hopes alive.
A disciplined bowling effort beginning with CPL debutant spinner Christopher Lamont restricted the Tridents to 135 after being sent in before the Stars chased down the target with ease in spite of Jason Holder’s controversial double-strike either side of the drinks break.
Better late than never
At age 30, Lamont had yet to play a T20 match in his career and didn’t have much other high-level cricket behind him either with eight List A and two first-class matches on his resume since making his debut for Jamaica in December 2017. But the late bloomer showed his worth after sitting on the bench all year for the Stars by claiming Man-of-the-Match honours after striking twice in the first seven overs to dent a short-handed Tridents lineup that was playing without the injured Steven Smith, who was ruled out for the season ahead of the match with an abdominal strain.
Given the new ball, the left-arm spinner struck in his second over thanks to a brilliant effort from Odean Smith at mid-off, who leapt high to deflect Dwayne Smith’s firm drive and parry the ball to himself on the rebound while falling backwards. After Kieron Pollard took a similarly sharp diving catch at mid-on in the next over off the bowling of Kesrick Williams to claim Martin Guptill, Lamont produced a fine athletic effort in his final over to take a return catch as he lunged forward to claim Shai Hope’s leading edge, leaving the Tridents in an early hole at 50 for 3, one which they struggled to climb out of.
Aside from Hashim Amla’s 35 off 34 balls at No. 3, nobody else crossed 20 in the innings. Solid death bowling by Williams and Obed McCoy, who each finished with two wickets, prevented Tridents middle-order from a late burst as just three sixes and three fours were struck in the final seven overs of the Tridents innings.
What on Irf is he eating for breakfast?
Perhaps the lone bright spot in a horrid run at Kensington Oval for the Tridents has been the sustained Powerplay excellence of Mohammad Irfan. The giant left-arm quick who came close to a literally flawless spell last weekend claimed two more wickets in his first three overs again on Sunday afternoon, ending the five-match home stretch with seven scalps.
Andre Fletcher was Irfan’s first victim, splicing a leading edge to mid-off in the second over that ended as a wicket maiden, though his streak of seven dots seemed mild compared to the 23 straight he had against Patriots four matches prior. The Stars’ revolving door of opening partners for Fletcher continued to have little success as Rahkeem Cornwall was promoted to open but fell in the fourth over, edging behind a pull to end a fiery cameo for 18 off 11 balls leaving the Stars at 24 for 2 in the fourth over.
Third umpire’s a charm
Stars rebounded from Irfan’s spell with a 56-run stand courtesy of Chandrapaul Hemraj and David Warner that was finally broken by Holder on the second to last ball of the 10th over. Hemraj had struck three fours and three sixes in a somewhat streaky knock before playing over the top of a pull to be bowled for 37.
Pollard arrived to complete the final ball of the over after the drinks break but was struck on the toe by a yorker that appeared to be drifting down the leg side yet was given out by umpire Leslie Reifer to make it 80 for 4. If the on-field decision appeared dubious, Shaun George’s examination of the front foot landing from the third umpire’s chair raised even more red flags. Holder’s foot appeared to clearly land beyond the line on TV replays but Pollard’s wicket was upheld, spurring Stars coach Brad Hodge to have a visit with the match referee.
The decision wound up not hurting the Stars in the end though. With the equation already under a run-a-ball at the start of the final 10 overs, Warner and Lendl Simmons produced a 56-run stand to coast across the line with 15 balls to spare. Ashley Nurse spilt a six over the rope off Simmons on the penultimate ball before Simmons slapped a four down the ground next ball for the winning runs to conclude the Tridents’ dismal home stretch in symbolic fashion.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo’s USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna
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