A pulsating Kennar Lewis half-century highlighted Jamaica Tallawahs dominant 55-run victory over St Lucia Kings, as they took a giant stride towards clinching a semi-final spot, ahead of a decisive final weekend of preliminary matches.
The barrel-chested right-hander blasted a 24-ball 56 to power Tallawahs to 211 all out off their 20 overs on Thursday night, with in-form Shamarh Brooks weighing in with 34 off 29 balls and superstar all-rounder Andre Russell thumping a 15-ball 31.
With Imad Wasim (27) and captain Rovman Powell (22) also producing cameos, Tallawahs posted their second total in excess of 200 for the tournament, while climbing to third in the standing on eight points, with their fourth win.
In reply, Mark Deyal top-scored with 33 from 17 deliveries and Roston Chase and Andre Fletcher both got starts with 30, but all failed to carry on as Kings were dismissed for 156 at the start of the penultimate over at Warner Park.
Left-arm spinner Imad Wasim claimed three for 34 after being handed the new ball while seamers Carlos Brathwaite (2-13) and Russell (2-34) picked up two wickets apiece to stall the innings.
“I think we’ve just found a little loophole in the Kings,” Powell said in reference to their 200-plus total against Kings in the tournament opener.
“They struggle in a sense with the power-play overs and at the back end, and we decided as a team we were going to try and capitalise on that and we did that in the two games.”
The defeat for Kings was their fourth, leaving them fourth in the standings but as one of three teams, along with Tallawahs and Guyana Amazon Warriors, on eight points.
Captain Fa du Plessis, who fell cheaply for six in the second over of the run chase, said Kings lacked someone to anchor the innings.
“I’m disappointed that we lost by so many runs. We were really well-poised there to get the chase underway,” the South African pointed out.
“But obviously with a big total like that you have to keep going so you need someone to bat through and play a really good inning – 70, 80, 90-plus – to win the game.
“Unfortunately we lost our way a little bit there but a lot of positives up until that point.”
Opting to bat first, Tallawahs got away quickly, Lewis crunching five fours and sixes in a 55-run, first wicket stand with Kirk McKenzie (19) and in a 46-run, second-wicket partnership with Brooks, who then put on 42 for the third with Powell.
Russell then took charge with four sixes while Imad Wasim blasted a four and three sixes in a 10-ball 27, to push Tallawahs past the 200-run mark.
Fletcher provided the early fireworks with a couple and fours and sixes in a 13-ball cameo and even when he was dismissed in the third over, Kings were rollicking at 38 for two.
The chase was further enhanced when Deyal lashed three fours and two sixes in a 17-ball inning and Chase, two fours and two sixes also off 17 balls, as the pair put on 66 for the third wicket.
But once Brathwaite removed both batsmen in successive deliveries in the ninth over, the Kings lost their last eight wickets for 52 runs.