Patrick Noone analyses the all-round performance of Mohammad Nabi as St Lucia Zouks made it back-to-back wins in Tarouba
Players like Mohammad Nabi are worth their weight in gold in T20 cricket. As a batsman he’s capable of batting anywhere in the middle order, adept as a finisher yet able to play in a more circumspect manner should the situation require. While with the ball, his canny off-spin provides a similar threat against both right-handers and left-handers and his economy rate is consistent across both the Powerplay and the middle overs.
Having already notched up one Player of the Match in this year’s tournament as St Lucia Zouks defeated Barbados Tridents on Thursday, Nabi was in the thick of things with both bat and ball again as his side beat St Kitts and Nevis Patriots by 10 runs.
The Zouks got off to a flyer with the bat, registering 64-0 in the first six overs, the highest Powerplay score in the competition to date, but the innings became undone after a collapse of 4-21 in 18 balls saw them slip from 102-1 to 123-5 during the middle overs.
Initially, the Zouks’ decision to bat Roston Chase at number five above Nabi appeared a strange one, given the danger of losing more momentum at the time the third wicket fell. But it worked out well for Daren Sammy’s side as Nabi helped his side regain the initiative with a 22-ball 35 that pushed them to a total of 172-6 from their 20 overs.
Nabi controlled his innings perfectly during the death overs, facing 16 of the last 18 balls bowled, knowing that his ability to clear the ropes regularly represented the Zouks’ best chance of posting a competitive score.
It was a well-paced innings as well, as Nabi only attacked three of the first 12 balls he faced and had just seven runs to his name at the start of the 19th over. But he gambled that he’d be able to make up for lost time in the final two overs and it paid off as he smashed 28 from 10 against Sohail Tanvir and Sheldon Cottrell.
Nabi was at his most devastating when playing the pull shot. 22 of his 35 runs came from the shot, including three sixes. The short ball tactic was a sensible one based on Nabi’s career numbers – he scores at 7.04 runs per over against short balls, compared to 9.37 when it’s full – but his performance today suggested he’d worked hard to improve that side of his game and neither Tanvir nor Cottrell were able to contain him.
With the ball, Nabi bowled the first over of the innings for the 40th time in his T20 career. On 21 of those occasions he’s got through the over without conceding a boundary and today, he continued to apply the pressure he’d built up with the bat by bowling eight dots in his first ten balls.
Chris Lynn was the only batsman able to score a boundary of Nabi across his four overs, but the Afghan made amends four balls later as his compatriot Najibullah Zadran pulled off a superb one-handed catch at square leg to send the Australian on his way for 14. Furthermore, the Patriots batsmen were only able to attack Nabi 41% of the time, the lowest of any bowler in the match besides Roston Chase (38%).
Nabi’s all-round performance went a long way to guiding the Zouks to back-to-back wins for the first time since July 2016. They might not be the most fancied of sides in this year’s CPL, but the Zouks are trending in the right direction and, with Nabi in this kind of form, they will be confident of mixing it with the best in the tournament.
Patrick Noone is a CricViz analyst