Patrick Noone analyses another matchwinning display from Mohammad Nabi as the Zouks beat the Patriots in Port of Spain
St Kitts & Nevis Patriots must be sick of the sight of Mohammad Nabi. In their previous meeting against St Lucia Zouks, the Afghan all-rounder played a winning hand with both bat and ball, scoring 35 off 22 balls and taking 1-17 to hand the Patriots their third defeat in a row.
Today, Nabi played an even more important role in his side’s victory, taking career-best figures of 5-15 to restrict the Patriots to 110. Nabi took four of his five wickets in a remarkable Powerplay; it was only the 12th time in T20 history that a spinner has taken that many wickets in the first six overs of the innings.
His first victim was Chris Lynn, who departed for the fifth time in five innings to spin, tamely working the ball straight back to Nabi for a simple return catch. Nick Kelly followed two balls later, edging to slip for a duck before Denesh Ramdin and Evin Lewis joined the procession in the next over, the former holing out to deep square leg before the latter played a half-hearted lap sweep to leg gully. At that stage, the Patriots had attacked five balls from Nabi and lost a wicket from four of them.
Nabi was given a third over in the Powerplay for the second time in this year’s competition. It would be the only over of the match he failed to take a wicket, though he was still able to draw a false shot from both occasions the Patriots batsmen played an attacking shot.
Returning in the 17th over, Nabi completed the first five wicket haul of his career when Sohail Tanvir was caught at backward square leg. It brought Nabi’s wicket total for the tournament to nine, behind only Scott Kuggeleijn and Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman on the leaderboard, illustrating how key a player he’s been for the ever-improving Zouks.
What’s more, Nabi’s economy rate of 4.80 is only bettered by Ashmead Nedd, Mujeeb, Sandeep Lamichhane and Sunil Narine – evidence that the off-spinner provides his captain outstanding control alongside his wicket-taking threat.
The Zouks’ win was their fourth in this year’s tournament, the most they’ve managed in a single campaign since 2016. They are currently level on points with Trinbago Knight Riders at the top of the table and look well set to finish in the top four – a remarkable achievement given their travails in recent seasons.
For the Patriots, their struggles continue, and they remain rooted to the bottom of the table with half their matches played. The shortcomings of their squad were emphasised by the sight of Ben Dunk bowling his gentle off-spin after Imran Khan and Jon-Russ Jaggesar had bowled out. They correctly identified that spin was the way to go on this pitch, but lacked the quality to take advantage of conditions, contrasting sharply with the deft way in which the Zouks have managed their versatile battery of spinners.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Patriots, who face Jamaica Tallawahs and Guyana Amazon Warriors in their next two matches; their trial by spin is set to continue and it’s hard to see them upsetting many between now and the end of the season. For the Zouks, this was yet another step in the right direction for a team that continues to grow in confidence as the season progresses. They have been a breath of fresh air this season and there are few signs of them slowing up just yet.
Patrick Noone is a CricViz analyst