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Match 30 – St Lucia Zouks v Jamaica Tallawahs

Patrick Noone analyses another superb bowling performance from St Lucia Zouks as Jamaica Tallawahs suffer defeat again

The latest chapter in Jamaica Tallawahs’ batting woes was written tonight as an extraordinary collapse saw them suffer a defeat that leaves them winless in their last four matches. St Lucia Zouks’ bowlers were characteristically canny as they defended a below-par total once again thanks to the wrist-spin of Zahir Khan and Javelle Glen.

This season, Glenn Phillips has been a sole beacon of consistency in the midst of a batting lineup that has routinely flattered to deceive. The Kiwi is the leading runscorer in the competition and tonight’s innings was his fifth score of 40 or more, no other batsman has more than three in the competition this year.

Faced with the task of chasing down a moderate target of 146 against the Zouks, Phillips made a fairly scratchy start, edging or missing three of his first six balls. He didn’t panic though and was able to keep the scoreboard ticking over, playing rotating shots to three of his next five balls before finally scoring his first boundary from the 12th ball he faced, cutting Mohammad Nabi to the fence.

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Phillips was perhaps not at his most fluent, but he was still able to record a false shot percentage of 16%, his lowest of any innings in which he’s faced 20 balls or more this season. The key to Phillips’ accumulation was ability to rotate the strike – in the middle period of his innings, he was able to score off nine consecutive balls, helping to address an issue that has been a real problem for the Tallawahs throughout the season.

A sweetly struck six down the ground off Zahir Khan took Phillips to 49 and the Tallawahs were cruising. It looked from there as though the Zouks would be unable to reverse the momentum, but Zahir responded by bowling Phillips two balls later one run short of another half century and, not for the first time, the Zouks showed an admirable spirit to claw themselves back into the game.

If Phillips’ wickets left the door ajar, it was soon blown off its hinges as the Zouks took four wickets for seven runs during a crazy 13-ball period. Zahir picked up three of them, including the huge wicket of Andre Russell for a golden duck and suddenly the Tallawahs were staring defeat down the barrel for the second night in succession.

Zahir has been in and out of the Zouks XI this season, but this was by far the pick of his five performances. The Afghan left-arm wrist-spinner showed superb control of his variations to dismiss right-handers Rovman Powell and Andre Russell with googlies that found the outside edge and were caught at slip. Zahir had broken the back of the Tallawahs’ run chase and the momentum had shifted decisively in the Zouks’ favour.

Javelle Glen applied the finishing touch, bowling four overs of his leg-spin in a single spell from the 11th over, picking up three wickets of his own for just 16 runs. The Tallawahs had lost 7-19 and there was no way back for them. A late flurry from Nicholas Kirton gave them a glimmer of hope, but when he was bowled by Kesrick Williams, that was extinguished.

The performances of both of these sides was a microcosm of their tournaments as a whole. When the two teams met in their first match of the season, the Tallawahs looked by far the stronger side on paper and fairly swept the Zouks aside on the field. Since then though, the Zouks have come together and repeatedly found a way to win, overcoming some extraordinary situations along the way.

Even after a slight hiccup in their last two matches, Daren Sammy’s side have responded to finish their group stage season on a high. They are more than the sum of the parts and cannot be underestimated in the playoffs.

Patrick Noone is a CricViz analyst

@patnoonecricket

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