BASSETERRE, St. Kitts,CMC – A miserly, yet penetrative spell from Ben Laughlin inspired Antigua Hawksbills and lifted them to their only victory in the Caribbean Premier League, when they cruised past Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel in their final preliminary match by five wickets on Saturday.
Laughlin bagged 3-7 from three overs to earn the Man-of-the-Match award, as the Hawksbills dismissed the Red Steel for 113 in 17.3 overs in the 25th match of the competition at Warner Park.
Sheldon Cottrell snared 2-14 from 3.3 overs and Justin Athanaze grabbed 2-25 from three overs to help with the demolition job.
Hawksbills reached their target with nine balls to spare through attritional, if not explosive batting, as David Hussey led the way with 24, their captain Marlon Samuels got 23 and Carlos Brathwaite ended with 20 not out.
Shannon Gabriel and Kevon Cooper collected two wickets apiece to put an element of doubt in the Hawksbills minds, but the Red Steel did not have the weight of runs to cause too much panic.
The victory gave the Hawksbills their first two points of the competition and meant that the Red Steel have dropped below reigning champions Jamaica Tallawahs in the standings, although they both have the same number of points – 12.
Both the Red Steel – qualifiers for the playoffs – and the Hawksbills – who failed to reach the playoffs – have completed their quota of preliminary matches in the competition.
It was a very low-keyed finale for the two sides, after the Hawksbills won the toss and chose to field on a typically easy-paced pitch.
Red Steel suffered an immediate setback, when opener Kevin O’Brien was caught behind off Sheldon Cottrell for a duck with the first legitimate ball of the match.
Evin Lewis led the Red Steel batting with 38 at better than a run-a-ball, but none of the other batsmen could get going, and they failed to adequately navigate their way through the remainder of the innings.
Laughlin set them back further, when he trapped New Zealander Ross Taylor lbw for 16, and left them reeling on 67 for four in the 11th over, when their captain Dwayne Bravo was caught at mid-off for six.
Athanaze and Cottrell bossed the intervening overs along with captain Samuels and left-arm chinaman bowler Brad Hogg to ensure there was no way back for the Red Steel.
Samuels promoted himself to open the batting and led the charge up from before he was caught behind off Gabriel in the ninth over leaving the Hawksbills 36 for two.
The Antigua-based franchise continued to chip away with Hussey playing the pivotal role before he was lbw to Cooper in the 17th over with 31 needed.
Brathwaite entered and clobbered three sixes from just four balls to erase any doubts that the Hawksbills would have a flourishing finish to the tournament.