St Kitts and Nevis Patriots 242 for 6 (Thomas 71, Lewis 53, Oshane 4-53) beat Jamaica Tallawahs 241 for 4 (Gayle 116, Walton 73, Allen 2-30) by four wickets
A rollicking run-fest at Warner Park in Basseterre ended with the second-highest successful T20 chase of all time, with hosts St Kitts and Nevis Patriots scaling down Jamaica Tallawahs' 241 for 4 with seven balls to spare. The batting records tumbled on a night when the CPL got two highest team totals in a matter of hours. In all, 37 sixes were hit in the match, the joint-most in T20 cricket. Patriots' win also resulted in the first points taken by a team other than Guyana Amazon Warriors and Trinbago Knight Riders this CPL.
Chris Gayle held the largest share of that, hitting ten sixes during his 22nd T20 century in the company of Chadwick Walton, whose 36-ball 73 came in a record CPL stand of 162. But Evin Lewis set the chase rolling with the fastest CPL fifty, off 17 balls, and the rest of the top four put in significant performances as Patriots overcame a late stumble to complete the win.
Patriots hand the advantage early
After a delayed start due to broadcast issues, Patriots opted to open the bowling with the left-arm spin of Fabian Allen. This played into the hands of Gayle, who hit him for two sixes and a four within the first four balls. In the second over, Alzarri Joseph bowled two bouncers to concede a no-ball, bowled a wide off the free hit, and then a short ball to give away a four. Without any risks, Tallawahs got 26 off the first two and put the pressure on Patriots.
A record partnership, a record total
Despite the early damage, Patriots enforced a brief period of quiet by bowling their seamers for seven overs in a row, including bowling six straight dot balls from Carlos Brathwaite to Walton at the start of his innings. But when legspinner Usama Mir came on, the shackles were broken again. Walton hit him for two glorious straight sixes in an over that went for 19, and the pair didn't relent from there. Walton kept the rate up when Gayle was kept quiet, with stylish strokes straight over the bowlers, and one especially inventive ramp over third man.
Mir's second over set Gayle free, the flat trajectory landing nicely in his arc as he lifted him over long-on in a 15-run over. With runs coming quickly from both ends, Patriots' haphazard bowling plans were put under even more pressure. From the 11th to the 16th overs, Tallawahs hammered 13 sixes and one four. Only in one over during that period did an over go for under two sixes.
In a rare quiet 17th over, Gayle brought up his 22nd T20 hundred, and off the next ball, the pair took a double that brought up the highest CPL partnership for any wicket - 162. Walton holed out against Joseph, Gayle off Allen - who also dismissed Andre Russell - in the last over for 116 off 62 balls. But it was too late by then. The last ten overs had leaked 153 and Tallawahs had reached a record CPL total.
Patriots fly in the chase
The record-breaking streak continued into the Patriots innings, with the pitch proving with every over that it had nothing for the bowlers. Lewis picked the off side against both Jerome Taylor and offspinner Steven Jacobs, hitting delightful sixes square off the former, and attacking the straight boundaries off the latter. Opening with the promoted Devon Thomas, Lewis smashed 53 off 18 balls and was dismissed with the score on 85 in 5.3 overs. With 89, Patriots had the second-highest Powerplay score in the CPL.
The wicket didn't put a stop to the scoring. At No. 3, Laurie Evans began with a four first ball and continued the attack with Thomas. He was fed several leg-stump deliveries, some of them duly put away for sixes, as Thomas was characteristically more deft with his scoring options, trying to pick the gaps in the field to hit more fours than sixes. They put on 76 off 39 before Evans' check-shot found sweeper cover at the end of the 12th over. At that point, they needed 81 off eight overs, far below the original asking rate of 12.10.
Allen shows how it's done
Wicketkeeper Glenn Phillips took a sensational flying catch to his right, one-handed, as Thomas' attempted slog against Oshane took a big outside edge. It turned out to be the first of three wickets in the 14th over, which had begun with Patriots needing 66 from 42 with eight wickets in hand. Captain Carlos Brathwaite slapped one to sweeper cover and Jason Mohammed edged one down the leg side trying to pull, for a three-ball duck. From 161 for 1, Patriots stumbled to 177 for 5.
From being favourites, Patriots seemed to be slipping, with their coaching staff visibly frustrated at what seemed to be a compulsion to play big shots. But Allen alleviated any anxieties from the Oshane over, playing two controlled shots - a classy drive past mid-off and a cut past point - to pick up fours off consecutive balls against Russell.
At the other end, Shamarh Brooks survived after swinging and missing at a few, before he too found the boundaries in an important 15-ball 27. When he fell in the penultimate over, with Patriots needing 15 from 12, Brooks and Allen had already put up 50. Soon, Allen pulled Russell over midwicket, cut him past point, and hooked him over short fine leg to seal the victory without needing the last over. Allen's unbeaten 15-ball 37 came at a remarkable strike rate of 246.66, considering how chanceless and risk-free his innings had been.