GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Alex Hales struck a career-best hundred as resurgent Jamaica Tallawahs crushed St. Lucia Kings by 122 runs to all but clinch the final spot in the playoffs of the Caribbean Premier League here Sunday.
Needing to win their final game in order to edge out Barbados Royals who play their final game later Sunday against Guyana Amazon Warriors, Tallawahs racked up an impressive 201 for five behind Hales’s unbeaten 119, and then bundled Kings out off 79 off 15 overs.
The result moved Tallawahs to nine points, two ahead of Royals who, with a distinctly inferior net run rate, are highly unlikely to qualify for the playoffs even if they win.
For the title-holders, the win was their second straight after losing five on the trot, and stand-in captain Imad Wasim said the momentum was vital for the playoffs.
“It’s the right way to go, We wanted momentum at the end of the tournament. We got that, now it’s the playoffs [and] you never know what’s going to happen in the playoffs,” said Imad.
“I think last year was the same. We got the momentum right at the end and we kept it though. In cricket, momentum is very important, especially in league cricket.
“Now we’re full of confidence. Our top order is firing, the lower order is doing well, spinners are bowling well, fast bowlers are bowling well – everyone is in form. We look like a dangerous team, to be honest.”
Hales was spectacular, the English opener blasting a dozen fours and seven sixes in a stunning 57-ball, Man-of-the-Match knock. He completed his first fifty off 32 balls and raced to triple figures off only another 15 deliveries.
Tallawahs were only 71 for two after ten overs but Hales combined in a 116-run, fourth wicket stand with Imad, who struck three fours and three sixes in a 24-ball 41, to accelerate the scoring as the last five overs leaked 72 runs.
“I felt in great form today. I found the middle of the bat pretty much from ball one. It was just one of those days when everything clicked,” Hales said.
In reply, Sri Lankan Bhanuka Rajapaksa was the only specialist batsman to reach double figures with 22, as Kings never got their chase off the ground.
Off-spinner Chris Green proved incisive with four for 15 from his four overs while new-ball bowlers, seamer Mohammad Amir (2-7) and left-arm spinner Imad (2-24), supported with two wickets apiece.
“We just didn’t turn up in any department if I’m to be brutally honest. I thought our execution with the ball, our fielding and our batting as well, it just went from bad to worse,” said Kings captain Sikandar Raza.
Kings are already assured of third place on ten points and will likely face Tallawahs again in the first playoff game on Tuesday.