The 2021 Hero Caribbean Premier League T20 trophy will either remain in St Kitts and Nevis or travel down the archipelago to St Lucia as both franchises gear up for a second chance to lift the elusive crown.
Both teams have never won the trophy since the tournament’s inception in 2013. They, however, advanced to Wednesday’s final after conquering top-flight opposition in their respective semi-final matches one day prior.
St Lucia Kings, who finished as runners-up behind winners Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) last year, got sweet revenge on Tuesday, when they eliminated the defending champions by 21 runs.
Similarly, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, who were also beaten in the 2017 final by TKR, get another chance to make up for lost ground after they romped to an emphatic seven-wicket win over Guyana Amazon Warriors in Tuesday’s second semi-final at Warner Park.
Both teams boast an array of talent in their respective batting and bowling line-ups and are eager to cross the finish line in pole position.
The St Lucia Kings are being led into the final by stand-in skipper Andre Fletcher, who replaced Faf du Plessis owing to a recent injury. The Grenadian wicketkeeper/batsman is expected to be ably supported by all-rounder Mark Deyal, who smashed an impressive 78 in his team’s victory over TKR on Tuesday.
Roston Chase has also shown good form of recent and will be relied upon to pile on some runs and snag crucial wickets in Wednesday’s CPLT20 showdown. Chase (403 runs) currently holds the title of this year’s “Highest Run Getter.”
Pacers Keemo Paul and Kesrick Williams will also be hoping to do some damage with the ball as they have been instrumental in securing wins for the St Lucia franchise in prior matches this season.
South African pacer David Wiese bagged his second five-for (5/39) against TKR on Tuesday while Pakistani fast bowler Wahab Riaz (2/36) continues to display dominance with the ball.
Alzarri Joseph and Jeavor Royal have also shown grit in the bowling attack and will be called upon to execute in Wednesday’s title match.
After their semi-final victory, Fletcher said he wants to make amends for last year’s defeat in the final.
He said, “It’s a good feeling to know that last year we got to the finals and we didn’t get over the line. This year we wanted to get back there.
“We didn’t want to make it look like it was a fluke (2020). The dressing room is pumped up and everyone is looking forward for the final. It’s not over yet but we really want to get over that line.”
The Patriots however, are being captained by a three-time CPLT20 title-winning skipper Dwayne Bravo (with TKR), who recently returned from a groin injury to help his team guarantee a spot in the knockout round.
Also among them are big-hitter Chris Gayle, who is arguably yet to show his best form of the tournament thus far. Evin Lewis though, has been the star of the Patriots’ team this year, as he continues to produce mesmerising displays with the bat at the top of the order.
The 29-year old left-handed batsman currently leads the 2021 edition with the most sixes (38) and will be one to look out for. After ten matches, Lewis has scored 366 runs, and even produced a centurion (102) performance against TKR on Saturday.
Against the Warriors on Tuesday, he finished unbeaten on 77 runs from 39 balls and was adjudged man of the match in his team’s seven-wicket win.
Fabian Allen and Sherfane Rutherford have also displayed good performances with the bat and are expected to again take on that responsibility against the Kings.
In the bowling arena, Jon-Russ Jagessar has been continuously improving while pacer Dominic Drakes has grown into a reckoning force with the ball. Pacer Sheldon Cottrell and spinner Fawad Ahmed are also gearing up for a top-shelf championship performance.
Paul van Meekeren and Ravi Bopara are showing good form while youngster Joshua Da Silva found good form with the bat in his last match against TKR, scoring 51.
After the second semi-final, Patriots skipper Bravo said the title match is already building up to be a heated encounter.
“One more game, it’s going to be a difficult game because St Lucia is playing very good and are very competitive. I think if it’s one team they want to beat, is St Kitts. There’s a lot of talk, a lot of banter going on between both teams already.
“At the start of the tournament I called them the ‘queens’ so they’ve proved me wrong. They’ve played very well and got to the finals so I’m happy for them and looking forward to it. It’s going to be a very good final and may the better team win,” Bravo said.
The final bowls off at the same venue from 10am.