Sensational Akmal innings deprives Zouks
GROS ISLET, St Lucia (CMC):
A ruthless half century from Umar Akmal helped the Trinbago Knight Riders to spoil a winning streak by the St Lucia Zouks in the 24th game of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) at the Darren Sammy National Stadium on Tuesday night.
Akmal blasted an unbeaten 73 from 35 balls to single-handedly take the game away from the resurgent Zouks, who had won their last three consecutive matches before attempting to make it four in a row against the Knight Riders.
Chasing 167, the Knight Riders crashed to 63 for five wickets inside the first 10 overs and appeared to be headed for a defeat at the hands of Darren Sammy's rampaging Zouks.
But the Pakistan batsman launched a merciless counter-attack by targeting all of the bowlers to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with an over to spare in front a packed stadium.
The momentum of the game swung back and forth, triggered by performances from players on both sides.
In-form Sammy top-scored for the Zouks with 37 from 18 balls to gather crucial runs at the latter stage of the innings after the Knight Riders' bowlers had restricted the batting earlier.
Zouks' total was also built on a 32-run input from Shane Watson, followed by 27 from Johnson Charles and 25 from Andre Fletcher.
Delorn Johnson was the pick of the Zouks bowling, with three for 22, including the scalp of Anton Devcich for 25. Devcich's dismissal ended a half-century stand with Akmal that had brought Knights Riders back into the game after they had imploded to 41 for four.
Akmal's batting heroics have earned Knight Riders a vital win and have lifted them from fifth to third place on the CPL table, displacing Zouks.
Knight Riders' play-off Hopes seemed in Jeopardy until the arrival of Akmal, who scored three fours and seven sixes to swing things around. In the 17th over, Akmal, who was dropped on 64, targeted Jerome Taylor for three sixes in a row and ended with a four which reduced Knight Riders target to 23 off the final 18 balls.
Sunil Narine impressed with a late cameo in which he bashed Watson for two sixes to bring the target down to nine from 12 balls.
Kevon Cooper scored the winning runs two balls later, to clinch victory with six balls to spare.