North Sound (Antigua), July 21: Kevin O'Brien narrowly missed out on a century as Red Steel sent Antigua Hawksbills crashing to their fourth straight loss of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), with a nine-wicket defeat here.
Opting to bowl first, the Red Steel Sunday (July 20) restricted Hawksbills to 151 for eight off their 20 overs, and then marched to their target with 17 balls remaining, thanks to O'Brien's stroke-filled, unbeaten 90 off a mere 49 balls, reports CMC.
New Zealander Ross Taylor weighed in with a patient, unbeaten 51 as Red Steel compensated for the heartbreak of their Super Over loss to Guyana Amazon Warriors in their last outing.
They lost Trinidadian Kennar Lewis for two with the score on seven in the second over but O'Brien and Taylor hardly put a foot wrong as they posted 145 for the second wicket to see Red Steel to their second victory in three games.
Hawksbills, who had a poor season last year, too, are still without a point with half of their complement of games completed.
They got a run-a-ball 38 from wicketkeeper Devon Thomas, 30 off 28 balls from Australian David Hussey and 26 from opener Ben Dunk, also Australian, but they simply failed to find the firepower to post a competitive score.
Dunk and Danza Hyatt (8) posted 30 off 22 balls for the first wicket before speedster Fidel Edwards struck, getting Hyatt to glove a pull at a short one to wicketkeeper Nicholas Pooran.
Hawksbills then suffered two further blows, losing captain Marlon Samuels for 13 in the sixth over and Dunk, run out in the seventh over in a mix-up over a single with Thomas, at 48 for three.
Thomas and Hussey buckled down to stabilise the innings in a fourth wicket stand worth 66. The right-handed Thomas struck four fours and a six - a hefty blow over square leg off left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn - while Hussey counted a four and six but failed to find the acceleration required.
Needing to push on, Hussey picked out O'Brien at long-off off Benn in the 17th over and Thomas followed in the next, edging a cut behind off medium pacer Kevon Cooper.
Sheldon Cottrell then smashed two sixes in 16 to add precious runs to Hawksbills' total.
Cooper picked up three for 34 while captain Dwayne Bravo finished with two for 29.
O'Brien then dominated Red Steel's reply, smashing five fours and seven sixes in a whirlwind innings.
He was severe on all bowlers, hammering a four and a six off seamer Ben Laughlin in the 12th over, to move to 49 before completing his half-century off 29 balls, with a single off the next delivery.
Taylor announced his intentions by smashing three boundaries off Rahkeem Cornwall's second over, the fourth of the innings, but settled down to play a measured innings and reach his 50 off 44 balls.
Antigua Hawksbills 151 for eight off 20 overs (Devon Thomas 38, David Hussey 30, Ben Dunk 26; Kevin Cooper 3/34, Dwayne Bravo 2/29)
Red Steel 152 for one off 17.1 overs (Kevin O'Brien 90 not out, Ross Taylor 51 not out).