Patrick Noone analyses Evin Lewis’ matchwinning knock in Port of Spain as the Patriots get off the mark
The first three matches of Evin Lewis’ CPL campaign were a story of frustration. Run out for 12 in St Kitts & Nevis Patriots’ first match against Barbados Tridents, the left-hander followed that up with starts of 30 and 29 against Guyana Amazon Warriors and St Lucia Zouks. In both innings, he showed flashes of the undoubted talent he possesses, but was unable to make a significant contribution on either occasion.
More frustratingly for Lewis, in both of those innings he was dismissed by an off-spinner (Chris Green v Guyana, Roston Chase v St Lucia) and both of the wickets came at bad times in the innings – either just before or just after the end of the Powerplay.
Lewis has historically struggled against off-spin in his T20 career; his run rate of 7.53 makes it his least favourite bowling type. The Tridents could have attempted to capitalise on that weakness by using Ashley Nurse early in the innings, but Jason Holder missed a trick and instead fed Lewis a diet primarily of seam and leg-spin, the latter against which Lewis scores at 10.17 runs per over.
Lewis attempted to make a fast start against the left-arm spin of Mitchell Santner, playing a cut, a sweep and a drive to the first three balls he faced from the Kiwi, but he was unable to make a clean connection with any of them and could only score three runs from the three shots.
Undeterred, Lewis dismissively pulled the first ball of the next over – Jason Holder’s – for four and began a run of 18 balls in which he either scored a boundary or faced a dot. It was an all or nothing approach that has become a trademark of another imperious left-handed opener from the Caribbean, and while Lewis might lack the sheer power of some of Chris Gayle’s biggest hits, there is a class and finesse to his strokeplay that surpasses even that of his mentor.
Having made his way to 32 from 25 balls at the end of the eighth over, Lewis was in the danger zone as Hayden Walsh Jr came on to bowl. It was the stage of the innings that he’d failed to get past in his last two knocks, but he wasn’t going to make the same mistake again as he smashed the Tridents leg-spinner for three huge sixes over cover, mid-off and square leg in successive balls. The third brought up his half-century and there was the feeling that Lewis had got over the hill and was ready to win the match for his team.
And yet, it wasn’t quite that simple. At the fall of the second wicket, the Patriots could have sent in Ben Dunk but instead opted for Denesh Ramdin, perhaps to maintain a right-hand/left-hand partnership. The wicket-keeper batsman desperately lacked fluency, attacked just 42% of the balls he faced – the lowest of any Patriots batsman – and ended up wasting 32 balls for just 20 runs.
It was a decision that almost cost the Patriots the game as Lewis had begun to tire by the time Dunk eventually arrived at the crease and hearts would have been in mouths as the Australian played and missed at five of his first ten balls.
Ultimately, Dunk found his range and won the game with two sixes, but this was a match defined by poor decisions from both sides. The Tridents opting to not bowl Nurse allowed Lewis to settle into his innings, giving the Patriots an edge that they almost surrendered by muddling their batting order. It was exactly the lack of clear strategy that has seen both teams find themselves bringing up the rear in the CPL ladder – on the evidence of this, it’s likely to stay that way.
Patrick Noone is a CricViz analyst