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St. Lucia Team CPL 2016: Meet the St. Lucia Zouks Squad for the 4th season

How will the St. Lucia Zouks line up in the upcoming Caribbean Premier League.

Darren Sammy would be captaining the St. Lucia Zouks this season

With the 4th edition of the Caribbean Premier League getting underway tomorrow at the Port of Spain, we take a look at how underdogs St. Lucia Zouks will possibly lineup for the tournament. Coached by former West Indies opening batsman Stuart Williams and West Indies bowling great Andy Roberts, the St. Lucia Zouks will be aiming to progress from the group stages for the very first time in their history.

CPL Draft 2016

The draft for the CPL 2016 was held in February in Barbados. With their star overseas player from last season, Englishman Kevin Pietersen withdrawing from this year’s tournament, the onus was on the Zouks management to acquire a suitable replacement for the flamboyant batsman. And they succeeded big time when they acquired South African big hitter David Miller for $160,000, making him the most expensive player in this year’s draft.

The Zouks also purchased retired Australian all-rounder Shane Watson and South African fast bowler Morne Morkel in the draft. New Zealand all-rounder Grant Elliott was also added recently to the squad in place of injured South African all-rounder Eddie Leie. Already boasting of great local talents in West Indians Darren Sammy, Andre Fletcher and Johnson Charles, the Zouks team finally appears to have a strong roster for the first time.

With the Zouks having failed to progress from the group stages in each of the last 3 editions of the tournament, the team management will have high hopes for this year’s tournament especially with the addition of Miller and Watson. On the downside though, the team appears to be heavily reliant on the lanky Morne Morkel to come up with the goods in the bowling department.

David Miller was the most expensive player of the CPL 2016 Draft

Playing XI

The Zouks team boasts of some of the most dangerous and consistent batsmen in T20 format over the years. With the likes of Mr. Cricket Michael Hussey, Shane Watson, David Miller, Darren Sammy, Denesh Ramdin and Andre Fletcher in their lineup, the Zouks team possess enough batting firepower to destroy any bowling attack on their day.

The team though appears to lack potency in their bowling, with the absence of a proven match winner in that department, with the sole exception of Morne Morkel. The Zouks team will be banking on the likes of Watson and Sammy to provide necessary support to Morkel with the ball.

Top Order

The Zouks squad boasts an abundance of big-hitting openers, but on current form, my money would be on the opening pair of  Michael Hussey and Johnson Charles. Charles has had a very successful T20 World Cup in India recently and will be looking to continue his recent good form. On the other end, the ageing but ever-reliable Hussey will provide him the perfect support. Though he has been out of competitive cricket for a while, expect the consistent veteran to provide good starts for the Zouks in the competition.

With the dangerous Watson coming in at number 3, expect the Zouks to take the full advantage of the field restrictions in the Powerplay overs. Though he had struggled with the bat in the recently concluded IPL9 , expect the explosive Watto to come up with the goods against the relatively weaker bowling attacks on offer in the tournament.

In the form of Andre Fletcher, the Zouks team has another in-form batsman, who will be ready to open the innings if and when required. Fletcher, a wicket-keeper batsman, who was also a part of the victorious West Indies team in the recently concluded World T20, is more likely to come in at number 4 slot, at least in the initial few matches of the tournament.

Shane Watson will be expected to be the key player for the Zouks with his all-round abilities

Middle Order

With the in-form Fletcher coming in at number 4, the Zouks have a lot of flexible options when it comes to deciding their middle order. Normally one would expect the big money signing David Miller, to follow Fletcher to the crease.

Coming on the back of underwhelming outings in the recently concluded IPL9 and World T20, the pinch-hitting Miller would be looking to get back into the groove. With his ability to change the course of a match on his own, the Zouks team will be hoping that the explosive Miller would be firing on all cylinders for them in the tournament.

Following Miller to the crease, would be the captain and fan favorite Darren Sammy. Capable of huge blows with the bat, expect Sammy to come up with the goods under pressure for the Zouks team. With his ability to bowl a consistent line and length, expect Sammy to effortlessly fill the vacancy for the batting all-rounder in the Zouks squad.

Coming in most probably at number 7 would be the experienced Denesh Ramdin. Known for his calm and cool head under pressure, Ramdin will play the perfect foil to the hard hitting Miller and Sammy, when it comes to close finishes.

Lower Order

The Zouks will be looking to slot in their 2016 U-19 Worldcup hero Gidron Pope at number 8.The exciting youngster, who scored 232 runs and took 7 wickets at the tournament, is seen by many as a future star of Caribbean cricket. He will fill the role of bowling allrounder in the Zouks team.

At number 9, right arm spinner Shane Shillingford will be expected to arrive at the crease. The offbreak bowler, who was previously banned from bowling due to suspected action, has the necessary tools in his armoury to play the role of the main spinner in the team. With a half-century to his name in tests, expect Shillingford to occasionally light up the crowd with his lusty blows.

Tailenders

South African opening bowler Morne Morkel and West Indian left-arm pacer Delorn Johnson would form the tail of this strong Zouks batting lineup. They won't be expected to contribute much with the bat. But expect the lanky Morkel to be among the wickets in this tournament, as his height and pace can cause a lot of trouble for the opposition batsmen.

And with Johnson lending him able support at the other end, Zouks have got a very potent opening bowling partnership on their hands.

Alternatives

Kristopher Ramsaran would be competing with Shillingford for the role of the main spinner in the team. In terms of batting, Keddy Lesporis from West Indies and Canadian Nitish Kumar would be reliable alternatives in the top order.

Veteran Grant Elliott would provide useful backup for the all-rounder slot in the team. West Indian bowling all-rounder Derone Davis will provide another exciting backup on the Zouks’ bench.

Prospects

The St. Lucia Zouks have consistently underperformed in the previous editions of CPL. With the addition of marquee players Miller and Watson, the Zouks have strengthened their batting lineup this year. A batting order that boasts Michael Hussey, Johnson Charles, Shane Watson, Andre Fletcher, David Miller, Darren Sammy and Denesh Ramdin can give any bowling attack a proper hiding.

With the experienced Morne Morkel leading the way in the bowling department, the Zouks will be expecting to reach the semi-finals stage for the first time in the annual tournament. And with possibly their best batting lineup ever in the tournament, the Zouks will be heavily reliant on their foreign acquisitions to lead their charge in the competition.

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