Marlon Samuels stroked a classy half-century but was outshone by an equally fine one from Shoaib Malik, as Barbados Tridents beat Antigua Hawksbills by five wickets to post their first win in the new Caribbean Premier League campaign.
The right-handed Samuels’s high quality 84 off 54 deliveries propelled the hosts up to 172 for six off their 20 overs after they were sent in at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in Antigua.
However, Shoaib responded with an intelligent 72 off 50 balls, to help guide the Tridents to a much welcome victory, with four balls left in the contest.
The Pakistani right-hander was supported by captain Kieron Pollard and seasoned opener Dwayne Smith who both got 21, while Jason Holder finished unbeaten on 19 from nine balls.
Holder struck two sixes – the last of which was a straight hit off exciting left-arm quick Sheldon Cottrell which ended the game emphatically.
Tridents were given a flying start by Smith and Shane Dowrich, the Barbadian pair adding 31 off just 15 balls for the first wicket. Dowrich, who made 17, cracked boundaries off the opener over from Cottrell and Smith added a six off the last ball, as the over bled 16 runs.
In the next over from Samuels, Dowrich cleared long off but then perished in the following over, bowled by Cottrell after missing a swing.
Tridents benefitted from a series of small partnerships after Shoaib arrived to hold the innings together in a superb knock.
He put on 30 for the second wicket with Smith, 36 for the third wicket with Jeevan Mendis (16) and a further 45 for the fourth wicket with Pollard.
Smith struck two fours and a six off 13 balls before he was brilliantly caught at third man by a diving Miguel Cummins off seamer Carlos Brathwaite, who was again the best bowler with two for 37.
When Mendis, frustrated with the lack of scoring opportunities, scooped a simple catch to Cummins at mid-off off left-arm spinner Brad Hogg, the Tridents were 97 for three in the 12th over and in need of a lift.
Shoaib came to the fore, striking four fours and four sixes and dominating his partnership with Pollard.
His first six sailed over long-on off Brathwaite and in the next over, he deposited Samuels’s off-spin over long off for his second. His third six over mid-wicket off seamer Ben Laughlin carried him to 49 and a couple off the next ball brought him his fifty.
Pollard lashed two fours and a six off 15 balls before edging Brathwaite behind in the 17th over and when Shoaib was run out attempting a second run in the penultimate over with 16 still required, Hawksbills were still in with a chance.
But Holder whacked the very next delivery over long off for six to ease the tension before finishing off the game just balls later.
Earlier, Samuels ended a run of poor form to help Hawksbills post a challenging total. He counted seven fours and four sixes and shared 83 for the second wicket with Australian opener Ben Dunk who scored 33 from 28 balls, and a further 64 for the third wicket with another Aussie, David Hussey, who smashed 32 from 16 deliveries.
Once Samuels holed out to long-off off fast bowler Ravi Rampaul at the start of the 19th over, Hawksbills lost four wickets for just nine runs as the innings ran out of steam
Rampaul picked up four for 32.