Charles on fire as Zouks notch three straight
GROS ISLET, St Lucia (CMC):
West Indies opener Johnson Charles produced an imperious innings as St Lucia Zouks clobbered Guyana Amazon Warriors by nine wickets last night to march to third spot in the Caribbean Premier League.
Chasing 160 for victory at the Darren Sammy National Stadium, Zouks sped to their target off the first ball of the 16th over, with the right-hander Charles striking a whirlwind unbeaten 94 off 52 deliveries.
He lost AndrÈ Fletcher in the third over for three, but allied with Australian Shane Watson in a rollicking, unbroken 151-run second-wicket stand to see Zouks to their third straight win of their home leg.
Johnson belted five fours and seven sixes, while Watson, also a right-hander, carved out an unbeaten 57 off 39 deliveries with seven boundaries.
Amazon Warriors had earlier rallied to 159 for four off their 20 overs after they were sent in, with Australian Chris Lynn pummelling 86 from 45 balls and Dwayne Smith stroking 56 from 51 balls.
The pair added exactly 100 for the second wicket to pull the visitors around from 13 for one in the fourth over when they lost Aussie Nic Maddinson, bowled by fast bowler Jerome Taylor for two, in his maiden game for Amazon Warriors.
Lynn slammed six fours and reached his half-century off 32 balls in the 16th over, while Smith counted five fours and two sixes in a much more measured knock before perishing in the same over, holding out to Mike Hussey in the deep off captain and medium pacer Darren Sammy.
Lynn took command of the remainder of the innings, posting 45 with wicketkeeper Anthony Bramble (8), as Zouks gathered 40 runs from the last five overs.
In reply, Zouks lost Fletcher early when the Windies right-hander was deceived by a slower ball from left-arm seamer Sohail Tanvir and bowled with the score on 11.
But any hopes of a collapse were quickly erased as Charles dismantled the Amazon Warriors with an astonishing display of power-hitting.
In one over from seamer Orlando Peters - the seventh of the innings which leaked 19 runs - he blasted two sixes and a four. He continued to pick off boundaries at will to reach his half-century off just 31 balls in the 10th over.
Fittingly, it was he who struck the winning runs when he pulled a short delivery from Australia leg-spinner Adam Zampa to the mid-wicket boundary.
The victory lifted Zouks to eight points, overtaking Barbados Tridents, who have now slipped to third. Jamaica Tallawahs lead with 13 points, while Amazon Warriors remain second on 10 points.
Zouks play their final game against Trinbago Knight Riders here tomorrow.