The Hero Caribbean Premier League 2015 got under way with a rematch of last year’s final as the current champions Barbados Tridents took on the Guyana Amazon Warriors.
The Tridents ran out winners thanks primarily to a brilliant all round performance from their captain, Kieron Pollard. His innings of 48 and two wickets were the difference between the sides and even a stunning spell of bowling from Sunil Narine was not enough to stop the current holders of the CPL title getting off to a winning start.
The Amazon Warriors began the game brilliantly. Having lost the toss and being asked to field Marchant De Lange got the game underway with a maiden. This was followed by another tight over from Veerasammy Permaul who conceded just three runs off the second over.
The big hitting began at the start of the third over when Dwayne Smith pulled a glorious six off a short ball from de Lange. Dilshan Munaweera also went aerial off de Lange, hitting a lofted drive for four. The Sri Lankan opener did not last much longer, bowled by Permaul for just six when he tried to cut a ball that was too close to his body for the shot.
Smith looked to be well set and looking to accelerate when he edged the ball to fine leg and set off for a single that was always risky. It looked an even worse decision to set off for the run when Smith slipped and fell in the middle of the pitch and Shivnarine Chanderpaul threw down the stumps to run him out.
Those two early wickets really slowed the Tridents down as they made it to just 30 off the six over Powerplay. Jonathan Carter got the innings moving again with two sixes in the seventh over which was bowled by Tillakaratne Dilshan. Carter could have been caught off the first of those Hero maximums, de Lange making a valiant effort to take a diving catch at long off.
Carter’s aggressive innings got him to 25 off 20 balls before he attempted to hit Narine straight down the ground only to be well caught at long off by Christopher Barnwell. While the wicket was cause for celebration it brought Kieron Pollard to the crease.
Pollard was brutal against every Guyana bowler apart from Narine who once again put together a parsimonious spell, conceding 22 runs off his four overs. While Pollard was drawing all the attention with his aggression at the other end Shoaib Malik carried on where he had left off last season for the Tridents. His 39 off 35 balls held this Barbados batting performance together after the early wickets.
Pollard was going brilliantly until he was run out attempting a second run that always looked optimistic. His 48 runs came in just 26 balls and was full of the powerful strokes that we have come to expect from the Tridents captain.
The Tridents could have had the best possible start to their defence of 158 when Lendl Simmons skied a ball from Jason Holder but was dropped by Robin Peterson. Simmons had yet to get off the mark at that point and as the leading run scoring in last year’s event his dismissal could have been vital. As it was it did not prove too costly because he was brilliantly run out in the second over thanks to a direct hit from Holder.
Holder could not be kept out of the game as he played a part in the dismissals of both Chanderpaul and Denesh Ramdin, picking up the wicket of the former and catching the latter.
At the end of the Amazon Warriors Powerplay they were 29-3 but the hugely experienced pair of Dilshan and Brad Hodge were at the crease but neither man could get going. The required rate had reached 10 an over at the half way stage of the Guyana innings and eventually the pressure told when Dilshan pulled a Pollard slower ball to Akeal Hosein at deep midwicket.
When Hodge was dismissed LBW by Peterson it was the beginning of the end for the visitors. At 61-5 with just over 10 overs left it was always going to be hard to keep the rate under control. When Peterson went on to pick up the wickets of Barnwell and Narine in the same over the Amazon Warriors were left needing 74 runs to win off 30 balls with only tail end batsmen left.
Some decent late order hitting from de Lange and Permaul got the Amazon Warriors past 100 but the Tridents were worthy winners.
The St. Lucia Zouks and Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel got their Hero Caribbean Premier League underway, but unfortunately a game that was well poised was ruined by a rain storm that left the field unfit for play. The home side would have been confident of victory having set the Red Steel a target of 180 to win. Only five balls were bowled in the second innings of the game so no result was possible.
The Zouks got off to a phenomenal start on an excellent pitch at the Beausejour Cricket Ground that offered pace and bounce reaching 53-1 inside the Powerplay overs. Andre Fletcher was in brutal form from the very start on his way to a swashbuckling 57. He nearly departed in the first over when he chipped the ball to midwicket off the bowling of Dwayne Bravo but it fell agonisingly short of the diving fielder.
While Fletcher was in fine fettle Johnson Charles could not match his returns. The best of his shots came off the bowling of Jacques Kallis whom he smashed down the ground for four. Off the next ball he chipped a Kallis off cutter into the waiting hands of Johan Botha at a short mid-wicket, dismissed for just 16 off nine balls.
That brought Kevin Pietersen to the crease who didn’t play with the same force with which Fletcher was hitting the ball, but he looked in excellent touch and seemed to be timing the ball well. He was happy to work the ball around and give the strike back to Fletcher.
The Red Steel spinners, Botha and Sulieman Benn, tried to combine to keep the scoring under control in the middle overs but both Fletcher and Pietersen were able to rotate the strike and find the boundary. They brought up a 50 partnership in just 37 balls, getting there when Pietersen launched Benn for a huge six over wide long on.
That shot off the tall off spinner seemed to be the catalyst to Pietersen moving through the gears, although there was an extremely close LBW shout when the Englishman tried to switch hit Kevon Cooper. Pietersen departed for 42 off 26 balls when he tried to hit Samuel Badree for six into the wind only to get caught on the boundary.
Fletcher’s excellent innings came to an end when he became the second wicket for Kallis when he was caught by Botha at long on. The Kallis spell of 2-31 was the best return for any Red Steel bowler and although it has been some time since he last played competitive cricket he clearly has not forgotten how it is done.
Some lusty blows from Darren Sammy and a well-made 27 off 16 balls by Henry Davids got the Zouks up to a very competitive total of 179-6. They would have felt confident of defending that score with a bouncy track and three fast bowlers at their disposal.
The Red Steel began their chase well enough, with Jacques Kallis scoring 10 runs in the five balls that he faced. Both came from boundaries. The first a glorious straight drive for four and the second a flicked six over midwicket.
Unfortunately that was when the rain came and despite the best efforts of the ground staff a heavy downpour then turned to persistent drizzle. It stopped raining but the ground was not fit for play before the official cut off time and the game had to be abandoned.