Trinbago Knight Riders got off the mark on Sunday with a confidence-boosting, six-wicket victory over St Kitts and Nevis Patriots at Warner Park, St Kitts.
It was TKR's first win in three matches, following a no-result and 54-run defeat.
But a slow over rate had TKR captain Kieron Pollard seeing red as the new CPL rule saw the former champs lose a player and only allowed two fielders outside the circle in the 20th over.
Newly installed Patriots captain, Sherfane Rutherford, capitalised with 18 runs off Dwayne Bravo who was playing his 100th CPL match. Rutherford was sensational with 62 not out off 38 balls (four fours, five sixes) to push his team to 178 for five.
However, TKR's Nicholas Pooran countered with an equally destructive 61 from 32 balls (five fours, four sixes) to tilt the match in his team's favour.
Pollard then eased all fears with a merciless assault on 19-year-old Afghanistan leg-spinner Izharulhaq Naveed who was hit for four sixes in the 15th over that effectively ended the contest.
St Kitts and Nevis started brightly courtesy an electric cameo from Grenadian opener Andre Fletcher. The Spice Man whacked pacer Jayden Seales for a four and a six in the second over, before tearing apart left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein in the third over.
Fletcher combined power with precision to take 20 runs off that over with two fours and two sixes.
However, the introduction of wily veteran Bravo in the fifth over completely halted the Patriots' momentum. The 39 year old, playing against the team he led to the 2021 CPL title, outfoxed Evin Lewis with a slower ball and had him caught by Hosein for a run-a-ball ten.
The former TKR and West Indies captain was not done yet and bowled out the dangerous Fletcher for a quick-fire 32 off 17 balls. Bravo saw Fletcher advancing as he approached the crease and sent down another slower ball which crashed into his stumps.
The wickets slowed the Patriots considerably and Narine made further inroads with the dismissal of his compatriot Joshua Da Silva (18 off 14 balls) as St Kitts slipped to 74 for three at the halfway stage. The wicketkeeper/batsman tried to be positive but saw his stumps disturbed while trying to attack the mystery spinner.
Narine then sent Jyd Goolie back to the pavilion taking the edge of the left-hander's bat for Bravo to pouch a sharp chance at slip.
Guyanese batsman Rutherford almost became Bravo's third victim when he was enticed by a wide Bravo delivery and struck it to Chadwick Walton on the cover boundary, but the Jamaican spilled the catch for six.
The dismissal proved costly as Rutherford and South African Corbin Bosch put on 66 runs for the fifth wicket to steer Patriots to a good total.
Bosch shifted gears for Patriots, waiting patiently on another slower ball from Bravo to deposit it over mid-wicket for six, and closing the over with a reverse-sweep for four.
Rutherford took cue from his partner and grabbed 14 off pacer Ali Khan in the 17th over, including a stylish drive through point for four.
With a penalty (only four outside fielders) in effect for a slow over rate, Patriots attacked Narine in the 18th over before Bosch skied a catch to Bravo to fall for 30 off 21 balls.
Khan conceded just eight runs in the 19th with only three fielders allowed outside the ring.
The Patriots then capitalised in the final over after a red card was shown for a slow over rate, milking 18 runs to boost their total.
TKR had a disastrous start as opener Chadwick Walton (six) was outdone by the bounce of a Blessing Muzarabani delivery cut straight to Fletcher at backward point.
New batsman Pooran had a bouncer from left-arm quick Sheldon Cottrell stuck in his grill in the third over, but not before he swivelled to pull the previous ball for a monstrous six.
Bosch interrupted the partnership in the fifth over with the wicket of Martin Guptill bowled for just seven.
New batsman Lorcan Tucker almost made a first-ball "duck" but Lewis could not hold on to a diving catch and injured himself in the process.
The in-form Pooran looked ominous as he struck two boundaries off Dominic Drakes to take TKR to 50 for two at the end of the powerplay.
Pooran then dismantled Naveed in the 11th over with back-to-back sixes to bring up his half-century.
But just when it looked like TKR was romping to victory, Bosch got Pooran to nick a wide delivery behind to the keeper.
With 74 to win off 51 balls, Pollard arrived with business on his mind. A day after criticising his team for being reckless in their approach to batting, Pollard was in mood to give another speech on the losing side.
The burly batsman ended all doubts with a 28-run over that demoralised Naveed. Pollard deposited his leg-spin for four maximums to leave the equation at 31 to win from 30 balls.
The dismissal of Tucker for 36 by Bosch was moot in the grand scheme of things as Pollard and Andre Russell (23 not out) put Patriots to the sword to leave them winless after six matches.
Summarised Scores: St Kitts and Nevis Patriots 178/5 (20 overs) - Sherfane Rutherford 62, Andre Fletcher 32, Corbin Bosch 30; Sunil Narine 3/24, Dwayne Bravo 2/43 vs TKR 180/4 (17.1 overs) Nicholas Pooran 61, Kieron Pollard 37 not out, Lorcan Tucker 36, Andre Russell 23 not out.