"--IANS/CMC"
North Sound (Antigua), July 18 (IANS/CMC) A fired-up Jamaica Tallawahs have continued their winning start to the defence of their Caribbean Premier League (CPL) crown, crushing Antigua Hawksbills by eight wickets.

Asked to bowl first, the Chris Gayle-led Tallawahs bundled out the hosts for a paltry 96 off 18.3 overs, and then cantered to their target off 14.3 overs, at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground here Thursday, reports CMC.

Gayle was at the forefront of the run chase once again, smashing 37 from 31 balls, including three fours and three towering sixes. He shared an opening stand of 62 off 51 deliveries with Chadwick Walton who was unbeaten on 43 from 34 balls, when victory was achieved.

Seamer Carlos Brathwaite was the best bowler with two for 11.

The triumph was the Tallawahs' second straight, after they easily dismissed St Lucia Zouks by seven wickets in Gros Islet last weekend.

For the Hawksbills, it was their second loss in as many games following their two-wicket defeat at the hands of last year's losing finalists Guyana Amazon Warriors.

They never seemed up to the challenge, stuttering and stumbling their way through the innings as they lost wickets regularly.

They were undone by Man-of-the-Match left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori who snapped up three for 13 while speedsters Andre Russell (2/16) and Jerome Taylor (2/22) were the other main wicket-takers.

Wickets started tumbling from second over itself and it was left to Sheldon Cottrell to blast a top score of 21 off 14 balls, with two fours and a six, to get the Hawksbills near the 100-run mark.

Shacaya Thomas perished as early as the second over, when he was trapped lbw for one with the score on two and captain Marlon Samuels counter-attacked briefly with three fours in 13 from six deliveries before also falling lbw to Vettori in the third over, at 15 for two.

Five balls later with no runs added in the same over, Danza Hyatt fell to Vettori also via the lbw route, to leave Hawksbills in turmoil at 15 for three.

Australians Ben Dunk and David Hussey tried to repair the damage in a 25-run stand but this revival was short-lived. Hussey cracked a four and a six in scoring 15 before seamer Rusty Theron disturbed his leg-stump in the eighth over and Dunk followed in the next over with two runs added, run out for 12.

In reply, the Tallawahs started slowly with just 14 runs from the first three overs, but came alive once Gayle launched Samuels over long-off for his first six.

Gayle then tore into fast bowler Miguel Cummins in the next over, smashing him for four and then two consecutive sixes to end the Barbadian's first over which leaked 22 runs.

Brathwaite struck twice in the ninth over with the score on 62, to earn Hawksbills some pride. He had Gayle caught at short-midwicket by Samuels, deceiving the left-hander with a slower ball and then had Jermaine Blackwood caught behind off a lifter without scoring.

However, Walton struck two fours and three sixes and kept a level head, to easily see the Tallawahs home, partnered by Australian Adam Voges on 12.

Antigua HawkbillsA96 all out off 18.3 overs (Sheldon Cottrell 21; Daniel Vettori 3/13, Andre Russell 2/16, Jerome Taylor 2/22)

Jamaica Tallawhs 97 for two off 14.3 overs (Chadwick Walton 43 not out, Chris Gayle 37; Carlos Brathwaite 2/11).

--IANS/CMC

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