FIVE-TIME Hero Caribbean Premier League T20 title-holder Dwayne Bravo believed his youthful but experienced St Kitts and Nevis Patriots squad could go all the way to capture the coveted crown. And so they did.
At Warner Park in St Kitts on Wednesday, the Patriots won their first-ever CPLT20 trophy after securing a nail-biting three-wicket victory over St Lucia Kings in a last-ball thriller.
Batting first, the Kings piled on 159/7, led by stern knocks from Roston Chase and Rahkeem Cornwall, who both scored 43 each, and a late cameo from Keemo Paul (39).
However, an early 45-run partnership from 23-year-old Joshua da Silva (37) and Sherfane Rutherford (25) backed by a game-changing 44-run stance from Fabian Allen (20) and Dominic Drakes (48 not out) in the final overs propelled the Patriots to a nervy win.
Needing one run from the final ball of the innings, Drakes, who hit 48 from 24 balls (three sixes and three fours) braved Kesrick Williams’ final delivery by flicking the ball down the leg-side to snatch the winning run alongside 18-year-old Pakistani teammate Naseem Shah (one not out).
Although a first-time CPLT20 victory for the franchise, this was Bravo’s fifth of the nine-year tournament making him the only player to achieve such a feat. The previous times he won the crown were with the then Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel (2015) and then rebranded Trinbago Knight Riders (2017, 2018 and 2020).
This was also Bravo’s 500th T20 match of his illustrious career.
The difference this year, Bravo said, was belief and allowing youngsters to perform on the big stage.
“For me, all I ask from these guys is to back each other. It doesn’t matter whether you perform or don’t, whether you play or don’t play, let’s support each other and let’s stay together. It was all down to giving the young players the belief and the opportunity, especially Drakes,” he said.
Bravo thanked the Almighty for allowing the team to become champions. He also commended his teammates, the owners, the people of St Kitts and Nevis for their support and the island’s government for allowing fully vaccinated patrons back into the stands to witness this year’s competition.
On Drakes’ brazen display at the end, Bravo heaped praises on the 23-year-old Bajan for braving the storm and leading the team home.
During his post-match interview, the famed all-rounder said he when he held his first net session with the youngster before the start of the tourney, he told Drakes that he was one of his main players for this year’s edition.
Bravo praised his teammates.
“Evin Lewis, naming him vice-captain, taking the responsibilities and scoring the most runs for us. Sherfane Rutherford, Fabian Allen and all these guys, the overseas guys coming in, sometimes they have not played but their energy on the bench is good.
“It’s a youngish team with a couple ex-seniors but I know how much this means to guys like Sheldon Cottrell who’s been here (Patriots) for nine years, Devon Thomas six years and Evin Lewis seven years,” he added.
Bravo was beaming with joy and said he always wanted to play on the same CPL team as the “Universe Boss” Chris Gayle.
After winning the first five preliminary matches, the Patriots lost the following three, two of them at the hands of St Lucia Kings. Their final two matches of the prelims saw them bounce back to beat TKR in back-to-back matches before ousting Guyana Amazon Warriors in the semi-finals on Tuesday.
Bravo credited the high level of competitiveness from all the franchises this year.
“If you look at the tournament and how close it was (competitively). From the very last game, you never knew who was going to be in the top four (prelims).
“Normally, teams fight to get into the top two but we didn’t need to be in the top two, but the top four. And a final coming down to the last ball, this is what the fans wanted and this is what people want,” he said.
Additionally, this was the second time Bravo and Patriots coach Simon Helmot lifted the title together. Helmot was coach of the TT Red Steel when the franchise won their first CPLT20 title six years ago with Bravo as captain.
In May, Bravo shocked TKR fans when he was traded to the Patriots in exchange for wicketkeeper/batsman Denesh Ramdin. He said he made such a move to challenge himself and help the franchise improve.
This win for the St Kitts and Nevis franchise, he said, is just as special as the previous four won with the TT franchise.
“I cannot ask for a different challenge. I challenged myself to come here to see if I could do something different with a new team and I’m very happy.
“I think this (title win) will be right up there (with the rest) even though I won a lot.
This one will be special because it’s a new franchise out of my comfort zone. Coming here, not knowing what to expect, I think this (win) is maybe in the top three,” he added.
This was also the second consecutive year that St Lucia Kings finished as runners-up. Last year, they lost out to TKR in the final.
Additionally, Chase was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament having scored 446 runs (four half-centuries and a strike rate of near 150), bagged ten wickets and taken seven catches. Lewis also captured the Hero Maximum winner as he led the competition with 38 sixes.
ST KITTS & NEVIS PATRIOTS 160/7 – Dominic Drakes 48, Joshua Da Silva 37, Sherfane Rutherford 25, Fabian Allen 20; Wahab Riaz 2/36 defeated ST LUCIA KINGS 159/7 – Roston Chase 43, Rahkeem Cornwall 43, Keemp Paul 39; Naseem Shah 2/26, Fawad Ahmed 2/32.