A repeat of last year’s Eliminator! The two teams played just a few days ago in the group stage and while the result of that game was completely one-sided, this match was going to be a blank slate for both sets of players. Tallawahs skipper Brandon Kings won the toss and opted to bowl first with a possibility of dew later on in the game.
Sikandar Raza went back to his strongest possible 11 after resting a number of key players for our last group stage game. The most notable return was of Johnson Charles, who is also our leading run-scorer in this edition of CPL. The pitch was always going to favour the side batting second and the Kings were up for the challenge.
However, we got off to the worst possible start, when our in-form batter Colin Munro was dismissed by Imad Wasim for just 1 run in the second over of the innings. The Jamaica Tallawahs spinners have been a threat all tournament and they struck early here as well.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Charles tried to rebuild from here but yet another of their spinners, this time Chris Green came up with the goods and picked up the huge wicket of Charles in the 4th over. And in no time we had lost both our opening batsmen at the score of 23/2. Our middle order has been the weak point for us and once again, they did not have answers to some exceptional spin bowling from the Tallawahs.
Roston Chase, however, did provide the Kings’ fans with some hope with his 40-run knock of just 36 balls. He did not quite get the support he needed from the other end of the pitch and saw his teammates walk back to the pavilion one by one. Bhanuka was next who fell for the trickery of Green and was dismissed after he made a good start with the bat for 14 runs.
The wickets kept falling for us at regular intervals and we just could not build any momentum in the game. Descarte was next to bite the dust and was gone after scoring just 4 runs from his 11 balls. Alzarri Joseph was pushed up the batting order in the hope that we could get some quick runs out of him. That plan did not work out after Joseph was out for a duck.
At 65/5 inside 13 overs, we were struggling and that is when the duo of Chase and Raza brought some life back into the game for us with a flurry of boundaries. Fabian Allen though had other ideas and picked up his first of four wickets with the important dismissal of Raza in the 16th over, after a well-played cameo of 19 from 12 from the Zimbabwean all-rounder.
Allen got the wicket of another set batter Chase, in the same over, and in no time we were 95/7 in 16 overs. Our tail-enders managed to put up some crucial runs on the scoreboard and in the end we finished with a below-par 125/9 in our 20 overs. The target wasn’t a tall order for Brandon Kings’ men and 126 runs is all that separated his team from a place in the Qualifier 2.
The in-form batting duo of King and Alex Hales got the Tallawahs off to a flyer and scored 43 runs in their first 4 overs. Matthew Forde though, who has been brilliant with the new balls for us the entire tournament, struck again with two consecutive wickets of King and Steven Taylor. Forde had well and truly brought us back into the game and he piled more pressure on Tallawahs when he picked up his third with the wicket of Shamarh Brooks in the 7th over and in no time the Tallawahs were 65/3 inside 7 overs.
Hales tried to ease some pressure off his new batters on the other end with a couple of boundaries against Joseph’s bowling. However, the England opening batter got out with a soft dismissal after punching Khary Pierre’s ball straight back into his hands. Jamaica Tallawahs were 73/4 at this point inside 8 overs. Because of the quick start Hales and King gave them, they were always in a good position to reach their target despite some exceptional bowling from Forde, who finished with figures of 4/23.
Raymon Reifer made sure he scored the winning runs in style with a six and completed the chase for Jamaica Tallawahs at 126/5 in just 17.2 overs. It ended in disappointment for us after a second successive Eliminator loss in two years, but the fight shown by our players throughout the tournament was one of the many positives the team can take with them from this edition of CPL.