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Choiseul Craftmasters and Avatar City Blasters had met twice before in the Saint Lucia Premier League. Both times were in the playoffs, once in the inaugural final in 2017, and once in last year’s semifinal. Daren Sammy’s Blasters won both. But third time’s the charm.
The two met on Monday night in Vieux Fort, with the Blasters’ season on the line, having already lost to Mabouya Valley Renegades last week. A loss to the table-topping Craft Masters would mean that Sammy would miss the playoffs for the first time in three years.
Craft Masters won the toss and opted to bat, but their innings never built up any momentum. They lost wickets at 19 in 2.1 overs, 22 (2.3), 45 (5.1) and 47 (5.5), before Audy Alexander and Nick Joseph tried to stop the bleeding.
Alexander did not exactly light up the scoreboard, making a sedate 18 off 34 balls. Joseph went for 19 off 26. But when their partnership ended at 95/5 in the 15th over, the table was set for Shanii Mesmain, who blasted 22 off 15 balls, including a four and two sixes.
Craft Masters’ total of 145/9 did not look like much but runs on the board are runs on the board. That’s especially true when considering the history of the Blasters, who are used to holding teams to smallish totals. They have never chased more than 143 to win.
That record would not change on Monday night. Gaspard Prospere, the only centurion ever in the SPL, was out for a first-ball duck. A few overs later, so was Sammy. His brother, and former Craft Master, Murlan Sammy, went shortly after. So too Stephen Naitram. And Jamaal James.
With wickets falling at the other end, it was left to Johnnel Eugene to play a lone hand. The youngster, a student at the University of the West Indies (Cave Hill) was the last man out, making 41 off 37 balls (2×4, 4×6). Blasters were all out 100, and out of the 2019 SPL.
Mesmain, a 23-year-old medium-pacer, took the final wicket, and ended with figures of 4-25 from 3.2 overs. He was responsible for both Sammy brothers and Keddy Lesporis in the top order. Craft Masters end the preliminaries with a perfect record.