Faf du Plessis’ first franchise T20 hundred saw the St Lucia Kings end St Kitts & Nevis Patriots’ perfect start to CPL 2021, crushing them by 100 runs. After they were put in to bat, the Kings produced a near-perfect T20 innings, losing just two wickets as they amassed 224, thanks chiefly to a 60-ball 120 from du Plessis – the third-highest score in CPL history – and a 64 off 31 from Roston Chase.
The Patriots never really got into the chase and were skittled for 124, despite the best efforts of Evin Lewis, who smashed 73 off 42 to keep the score line somewhat respectable.
The first innings saw the Kings refuse to let Patriots bowlers settle, allowing just 26 dot balls across the entire innings. The tone was set at the top by du Plessis when he whacked Naseem Shah for two fours and a six in the second over, while Andre Fletcher was canny enough to allow him the lion’s share of the strike. While Fletcher holed out shortly after the powerplay and Fawad Ahmed outfoxed a stuttering Keron Cottoy, it allowed du Plessis and Chase to come together for a blistering partnership.
The last eight overs produced 116 runs, with Dwayne Bravo coming in for heavy punishment. Chase and du Plessis began the late assault with three fours in his 13th over, before Chase hit full tilt and smashed Bravo for three more fours and a six. The most prolific wicket-taker in T20 history conceded 50 in 3.2 overs before leaving the field with a groin injury. Dominic Drakes completed the over but he was expensive as well, leaking 40 runs in 2.4 overs. Naseem was then dispatched for 21 in the final over as the Kings piled up 224.
The Patriots needed all their big guns to fire, but were hampered through the first five overs, during which just 28 were scored. By this time Devon Thomas and Chris Gayle had both perished, without making a significant dent in the target. There was enough time for Chase to bowl a maiden over to Evin Lewis, but in the end, the opener was the only one who kept the flame flickering for his side.
He caught fire around the sixth over, and in no time at all, a combination of ordinary bowling and searing ball-striking saw him bring up his half-century in 25 balls – as many as it had taken du Plessis. The asking rate, though, never really came down below 12 and support from the other end was lacking. Ravi Bopara scored just 4 off 13 balls in a 60-run partnership, while Sherfane Rutherford and Fabian Allen didn’t hang around long enough. Once Lewis fell, Keemo Paul and Alzarri Joseph ran through the lower order, taking three wickets each as the Kings gave their spirits – and their net run-rate – a huge boost.