PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad –– West Indies opener Johnson Charles belted an attacking half-century and South African David Miller produced an entertaining late cameo as St Lucia Zouks stunned title-holders Trinbago Knight Riders by six wickets in the opening game of the Caribbean Premier League last night.
Set a competitive 163 for victory at the Queen’s Park Oval, Zouks got home off the first ball of the final over when the left-hander Miller clobbered fast bowler Ronsford Beaton to the cover boundary, well after midnight.
Charles top-scored with 52 off 38 balls with six fours and a six while Miller counted four fours and a six to end on 33 not out from 20 deliveries. Andre Fletcher made 23 from 22 balls.
Champion off-spinner Sunil Narine was the best of the TKR bowlers with two for 25 while medium pacer and captain Dwayne Bravo claimed two for 43 from his four.
Sent in earlier, the hosts rallied from a slow start to reach 162 for six, thanks mainly to Darren Bravo’s superb unbeaten 63 off 44 balls.
The innings was stuttering at 58 for three at the end of the ninth over when Bravo and Umar Akmal, who made 30, combined in a 66-run, fourth wicket stand to pull things around.
Bravo lashed two fours and four sixes while the energetic Akmal faced 28 balls and counted two fours and a six.
They were separated in the 18th over when Akmal tried to slap a short one from seamer Shane Watson down the ground and was caught and bowled.
However, Bravo went into overdrive as TKR briskly gathered 39 runs from the last three overs of the innings.
When New Zealander Brendon McCullum pummelled two boundaries off the opening over from South Africa Morne Morkel, Zouks seemed in for a long night.
But left-arm spinner Derone Davis removed him for 12 in the third over with the first delivery of his spell –– caught at slip by captain Darren Sammy –– and Watson, who finished with three for 26, knocked over Colin Munro for 11 courtesy of a catch at mid-wicket also by Sammy, to leave TKR on 38 for two in the sixth over.
South African open Hashim Amla, who made 26 from 21 balls with fours and a six, tried to revive the innings until holing out to deep over in the ninth over off off-spinner Nitish Kumar.
Bravo and Akmal then took command as they pushed TKR past the 100-run mark, a milestone raised in the 14th over when the Pakistani cleared the ropes at long-off with Morkel and then tickled him fine for a boundary.
In reply, Charles and Watson got stuck into opening bowlers Beaton and left-arm spinner Nikita Miller, as they set the foundation for victory with a 47-run, opening stand off 35 deliveries.
With Watson doing most of the heavy lifting, Zouks raced to 29 without loss after three overs but Dwayne Bravo’s introduction in the sixth over accounted for the Aussie, caught at mid-off for 16 off a leading edge.
Charles added another 46 for the second wicket with Fletcher before a botched reverse sweep off Narine found McCullum’s safe hands at slip in the 12th over and when Fletcher fell to Narine two overs later, Zouks were in a spot of bother at 104 for three in the 14th over.
But Miller and Australian Mike Hussey, who made 16, effectively killed off TKR’s hopes by adding a positive 43 off 30 balls for the fourth wicket, to ensure Zouks a winning start.