Zouks stun Patriots to move into playoff contention

 St Lucia Zouks bowled brilliantly to upset St Kitts and Nevis Patriots by 20 runs here Tuesday night and reignite their quest for a spot in the playoffs of the Caribbean Premier League.

Fast bowler Hardus Viljoen, a 30-year-old who played a single Test for South Africa three years ago, spearheaded the Zouks effort with a superb spell of three for 14 from his four overs as Patriots, asked to chase 166, came up short at 145 for nine off their 20 overs.

He was backed up by discarded West Indies white-ball seamer Kesrick Williams who claimed three for 48 while Australia’s Fawad Ahmed snatched two for 19 from four overs of leg-spin.

Pakistan’s Mohammed Hafeez struck 29 and Englishman Laurie Evans chipped in with 28 but Patriots lacked that big innings to turn the result their way.

Zouks had also struggled earlier after being sent in at the Darren Sammy Cricket Stadium, and their 165 for six appeared well short of a competitive total.

Opener Andre Fletcher struck 36 off 23 balls and captain Darren Sammy, 30 off 19 deliveries, while Guyana all-rounder Chris Barnwell helped to add precious runs at the end with an unbeaten 27 from 23 balls.

Hafeez earned three for 22 with his reliable off-breaks while West Indies speedster Alzarri Joseph was outstanding in four overs, finishing with two for 20.

The win for the Zouks was only their second in seven matches but it moved them into fourth place on five points. Patriots, meanwhile, missed out on a chance to seal a playoff spot, and remain third on eight points.

Zouks started well as Fletcher out on 34 for the first wicket with Rahkeem Cornwall (13) and a further 38 for the second wicket with South African Colin Ingram (21).

Cornwall lashed two sixes before he was bowled missing a heave at Joseph and Fletcher belted four fours and a couple of sixes before going stumped down the leg-side off Hafeez in the eighth over at 72 for two.

Hafeez then knocked over Ingram and New Zealander Colin de Grandhomme (17) cheaply as Zouks lost four wickets for 29 runs but Sammy and Barnwell put on 56 for the sixth wicket to rescue the innings.

What should have been a straightforward run chase quickly turned problematic when left-hander Evin Lewis (10) and Devon Thomas (9) perished cheaply to leave Patriots on 31 for two in the fifth over.

Hafeez and Evans then combined in a 49-run third wicket stand to steady the innings but they were both bogged down and the partnership required 44 deliveries.

When Evans tried to break the shackles, he skied a return catch to Williams in the 13th over and in the same over, Fabian Allen was trapped plumb lbw on the crease for one at 89 for four.

Captain Carlos Brathwaite holed out to deep mid-wicket off Fawad Ahmed in the next over for two and Viljoen bowled Shamarh Brooks for seven in the 15th over as the batsman attempted to improvise.

Facing a required run rate of over 12-½ over in the last five overs, the task proved too difficult for Patriots and they buckled under the pressure.

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