Patrick Noone analyses an extraordinary semi-final win for St Lucia Zouks
After seven years of being the whipping boys, the minnows, the basement dwellers, St Lucia Zouks have banished the demons and qualified for their first ever CPL final. A characteristically unified performance with the ball was good enough to stun Guyana Amazon Warriors and bowl them out for just 55 in 13.3 overs. All six of the bowlers Daren Sammy called upon were among the wickets and between them they combined to skittle the Amazon Warriors for the second lowest score in CPL history.
As with much of the Zouks’ season, it’s hard to focus on one individual when trying to analyse a key performance. The phrase ‘more than the sum of their parts’ might as well be a motto adorning their crest, so often has it been used to describe this spirited outfit.
But the man who got the ball rolling for them tonight was, not for the first time, Scott Kuggeleijn. The Kiwi seamer struck with the third ball of the match as Brandon King edged a wide delivery to complete a miserable tournament for the star of the 2019 edition of the CPL. The very next ball, Shimron Hetmyer picked the wrong ball to leave and Kuggeleijn found just enough movement back into the left-hander to clip his off-stump.
Those two dismissals gave Kuggeleijn nine Powerplay wickets for the season, the most of any bowler in this campaign. Time and again he has set the tone for the Zouks, bowling with a deceptive pace and no shortage of accuracy and skill. Kuggeleijn’s strike rate in the first six overs is just 12.0, better than any seamer to take five wickets or more in that phase of the innings.
His double strike in the first over left the Amazon Warriors reeling. For all the exciting power and potential of batsmen such as Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran and Keemo Paul, a careful rebuild is perhaps not what this lineup is built for. Sure enough, wickets continued to tumble as Pooran holed out to Mohammad Nabi before Roston Chase dismissed both Ross Taylor and Keemo Paul.
At that stage, the Amazon Warriors were 32-5 with Chris Green and Chandrapaul Hemraj at the crease. A bad position, for sure, but with an opener and a bowling all-rounder at the crease, it could at least have been salvageable, especially given the Amazon Warriors’ ability to defend seemingly sub-par totals. However, their application was sorely lacking as neither batsman knew whether to stick or twist, attacking five balls in a row before rotating six in succession after the fall of the fifth wicket.
The upshot was a streaky partnership of 19 which included seven singles and two sixes, the second of which came from Green off a long hop from Javelle Glen, who would have his revenge the very next ball as the Amazon Warriors captain holed out to an almost identical delivery.
If that sequence summed up the Amazon Warriors night, the next 14 balls provided the final nail in the coffin of their season. The Zouks took four wickets for four runs to round off the innings and give themselves the simplest of run chases to book their place in the final alongside Trinbago Knight Riders.
Rahkeem Cornwall and Mark Deyal made light work of the 56 runs needed, shining an even harsher light on the Amazon Warriors’ struggles on the same surface. The Knight Riders will still be favourites to win Thursday’s final, but the Zouks could scarcely have made a more emphatic statement to suggest that perhaps TKR won’t have it all their own way.
Patrick Noone is a CricViz analyst