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Pollard blitz keeps Stars playoffs hopes alive

St Lucia Stars 141 for 4 (Fletcher 45, Pollard 41*, Permaul 2-20) beat Guyana Amazon Warriors 140 for 9 (Delport 25, McCoy 2-23) by six wickets

Captain Kieron Pollard ensured St Lucia Stars' playoff hopes aren't snuffed out as the Stars bounced back from Tuesday night's abysmal effort of 69 all out to trip up CPL table-toppers Guyana Amazon Warriors by six wickets with 11 balls to spare.

Chasing 141, Stars were two runs ahead on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern par score when rain stopped play at 71 for 2 after 11 overs. The Stars batting went through a mild stutter when play resumed as David Warner and Qais Ahmad fell in quick succession to the legspin duo of Imran Tahir and Devendra Bishoo respectively. After Stars slumped to 97 for 4, it looked as if the match was headed for a deja vu finish of the first showdown between these sides in Guyana. Stars, in that instance, had lost by three runs while chasing 142. On Friday, though, with 31 to win off the final three overs, Pollard smashed 30 runs - three sixes and as many fours - off Bishoo in the 18th over to quell any doubts over a repeat ending.

Hit and miss

Stars' fielding, which has been a major source of woe throughout another dismal campaign, was a mixed bag on Friday night. Two balls into the match, Kesrick Williams dropped Chadwick Walton at point to put Luke Ronchi on strike, who hammered three fours off the last three balls of the opening over. Walton also survived a clear run-out chance on 7 in the third over as Stars looked like they were in for a long night in the field.

Walton only scored five more before he backed away to make room for Cornwall's offspin from round the wicket but he missed and lost his leg stump. Warner counterbalanced the early drop with two very sharp catches in the Powerplay to get Ronchi and Shimron Hetmyer. Just as quickly, though, another chance was left on the table when Lendl Simmons misfired with Cameron Delport well short of his ground in the sixth over, having just come to the crease after the fall of Hetmyer. Delport was also shelled by Pollard in the 14th over but finally fell for a top-score of 25 in the next.

The shoe was on the other foot in the 16th over though as a terrible mix-up between Sherfane Rutherford and Sohail Tanvir resulted in a simple relay by Qais to the bowler Obed McCoy that made Rutherford wave his bat in frustration as he walked off for 15. Stars got sharper in the waning overs as Warner took his third catch in the 20th, followed by a last-ball run-out, as Amazon Warriors ended on 140 for 9.

Lend me some runs

In an effort to spur Simmons out of a form funk, he was given a chance to start the chase with Andre Fletcher and Warner was bumped down to No. 4. The pair are second and third on the all-time CPL run charts, behind only Chris Gayle, but the shuffle up the order didn't have the desired effect.

Simmons, the Stars' $160,000 purchase, scratched his way to 15 off 20 balls before being bowled by an arm ball from Veerasammy Permaul. Simmons has 84 runs in five innings this season, including 17 in his last three innings. Meanwhile, Fletcher anchored the rest of the chase to finish with a top-score of 45 not out off 46 balls.

Knight and day

Eight days ago on the same ground, Pollard leaked 32 runs, including five sixes, to Darren Bravo in the 16th over of Trinbago Knight Riders' successful chase of 213. On this occasion, it was Pollard doing the damage with the bat as Bishoo wound up on the receiving end of six consecutive strokes to the boundary.

In spite of the wickets in hand, Stars' chase was beginning to look eerily similar to the bungled effort produced by the Jamaica Tallawahs in Lauderhill on Wednesday night, losing by two runs against Barbados Tridents with seven wickets in hand despite the required run rate never climbing over 10 per over.

The Warriors spinners had been doing damage through key phases of the chase but struggled to grip the ball in the late stages of the chase following the rain delay. With 31 needed off the last three overs and Pollard on 11 off 12 balls, Bishoo lost control of the first delivery of the 18th over, a full toss slipping out of his hand that was slapped over long-off for six. Pollard was now comfortably out of his shell and proceeded to smack the next three balls for six, four and six to take the equation under a run a ball. Two more straight fours ended the over, leaving Fletcher on strike to hit the winning runs in the next over for a rare victory for the home side.

Stars 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st27LMP SimmonsADS Fletcher
2nd0ADS FletcherRRS Cornwall
3rd52ADS FletcherDA Warner
4th18ADS FletcherQais Ahmad
5th44ADS FletcherKA Pollard