ST LUCIA Kings’ all-rounder Mark Deyal described his team’s second consecutive Hero Caribbean Premier League T20 runner-up finish as “gut-wrenching.”
Needing five runs from the final two balls in pursuit of 160 for victory in the title match, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots batsman Dominic Drakes rub salt in the wounds of the 2020 finalists when he hit a four and a single respectively, to capture the franchises’ first-ever CPLT20 crown in a last-ball thriller at Warner Park.
In the process, Patriots handed the Kings their second CPLT20 final loss in as many years, having lost out to four-time winners Trinbago Knight Riders at last year’s edition. TKR won by eight wickets with 11 balls remaining.
This year, however, the final went down to the wire, and the Kings had their long-awaited hopes dashed as the youthful pair of Bajan Drakes, 23, and Pakistani Nassem Shah, 18, led the Patriots home.
Having worked so hard to secure a finalist spot and then miss out on the franchises’ first-ever tournament title by the narrowest of margins, the 28-year-old was devastated.
“The loss was harder this year because you could have almost tasted the victory. So it goes. We were disappointed. It was a hard pill to swallow to lose on the last ball.
“This is the reason for CPL. Big occasions like this and younger guys putting up their hands like Drakes in the final.
“This is the stage where all eyes are on you as a young player. You want to establish yourself so you’re put in situations and have to grasp it. As much as I’m disappointed in losing, it’s good for West Indies cricket,” he said.
Before the final, the left-handed batsman said the team wanted to prove getting to the 2020 final was not a one-off achievement. He added that the squad’s hunger for success and determination to go all the way was the driving force behind the Kings’ race for the crown.
Deyal was the only Trinidad and Tobago player representing the St Lucia franchise.
In the semi-final, Kings avenged last year’s final loss when they beat defending champions TKR by 21 runs. Deyal (78 runs from 44 balls) top-scored for Kings with his best knock of the tournament while pacer David Wiese picked up his second five-for to lead Kings to another title shot.
Against several of his countrymen in the semis, Deyal played fearlessly and wanted to prove that the St Lucia team had what it took to conquer the most successful team in CPLT20 history.
“After the loss last year, a lot was said. It’s something I didn’t forget, I kept it close and it fuelled me a lot. The things that were said and in the manner in which they were said, I saw it as motivation.
“These are the moments that players look for. Before the game, I told the coach that today was my day. It’s good to perform against a top-quality team like TKR.
“It was sweet revenge. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go one step further this year but that win over TKR was redemption. I remembered that feeling of losing in 2020 and I didn’t want to feel like that anymore,” he added.
Former WI all-rounder and last year’s St Lucia Zouks (formerly) captain Daren Sammy opted out of this year’s competition as a player and chose to serve as a team mentor.
Although he was unable to be with the team for the majority of the preliminary stages, Deyal said Sammy stayed in touch with the team through messages, videos and phone calls to keep them motivated and passionate about their cause.
The Kings also produced this year’s Player of the Tournament, Roston Chase, who scored 446 runs (four half-centuries and a strike rate of near 150), bagged ten wickets and took seven catches.
When Deyal returned to TT last Thursday, two days later, he had already resumed training at the National Cricket Centre in Couva.
He is intent on participating in a couple T10 and T20 tournaments in the US and possibly secure another hopeful stint in Dubai’s T10 competition. Deyal will continue training both at the cricket centre and at home as he wants to be fully prepared for any team call-up.