Chris Gayle smashed 86 in 65 balls but with little support, his St Kitts and Nevis Patriots could only muster 146 for 5. Then budding West Indies talent Shimron Hetmyer took the home fans’ breath away with an unbeaten 79 as the Guyana Amazon Warriors coasted to 148 for 4 and a six-wicket victory in the second match of the 2018 Hero Caribbean Premier League played at Providence, Guyana, tonight.
Warriors, captained by Shoaib Malik won the toss and elected to field. They had almost immediate success as opener Evin Lewis’ woefully poor form continued. He scratched around for seven deliveries, scored one run and in the fourth over was bowled by South African-born off-spinner Chris Green who plays professionally in Australia. Captain Gayle and Australian-born Dutch international Tom Cooper then added 61 for the second wicket with Gayle doing the most of the scoring. Cooper would depart for 15 in the 12th over with the score on 76 when he was trapped lbw by the admirable Keemo Paul who would eventually finish with the outstanding figures of 2 for 16 from his four overs.
Gayle then stitched together a partnership of 43 with another Aussie Ben Cutting. Gayle brought up his 50 off 41 balls with four boundaries and three sixes but he played in a fashion that suggested he appreciated that whatever total the Patriots got depended heavily on him. He lost Cutting in the 17th over just as the Patriots were looking to press on. Cutting walked across his stumps to play to leg but was yorked by the left-handed pacer Sohail Tanvir for 15 to make the score 119 for 3.
But then the Patriots were dealt a major blow. The big Jamaican left-hander attempted to hit leg-spinner Imran Tahir over the top but was brilliantly caught in the deep by a diving Sherfane Rutherford. Gayle’s 86 was scored in 65 balls and included seven boundaries and five sixes. He fell on the third ball of the 19th over with the score on 134 and over the next nine balls the Patriots could only manage a meagre 12 runs. This containment effort was led by Paul who bowled a brilliant final over that went for only six runs. Paul did not concede a single boundary in the 24 balls which he delivered.
Chasing the below-par score, the hosts did not get off to the best of starts and though scoring quickly were losing early wickets. By the third over they had slumped to 24 for 3 with openers Chadwick Walton (9) and Luke Ronchi (0) back in the hut. Cottrell breached Ronchi’s defence in the first over that went for six runs and bowled him, while 18-year-old leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane accounted for Walton. Hetmyer, who many have called for his inclusion in all three formats of the game, batted at number 3 and from the start demonstrated why there is so much positive hype about him.
The passage of play in overs three, four and five defined the excitement of the occasion and made the match the spectacle that it was. Cottrell bowled the third over to captain Malik who smashed him for three boundaries before he was caught by wicketkeeper Devon Thomas off the last ball of the over for 14. The fourth over was bowled by Cooper and Hetmyer hit the first three balls for 4, 6, and 6. The fifth over bowled by West Indies fast-bowler Alzarri Joseph was even more thrilling. Joseph and Hetmyer won the ICC Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh together in 2016. Tonight they went at each other in stirring fashion.
The first ball of the over from Joseph was swift but it was crashed through point for a boundary. It was also a no-ball. The free-hit was carved over the mid-wicket boundary for six. The next ball was a searing bouncer which Hetmyer ducked and it was somewhat harshly deemed a wide. The following ball from Joseph was flicked magnificently to the midwicket fence for another boundary. The third legitimate delivery was fast again but offered width and Hetmyer stood back in his crease and guided it behind point for another boundary. Guyanese fans in the stands were delirious, screaming Hetmyer’s name while waving the Amazon and Guyana national flags. The over went for 20 runs and the dominance of Hetmyer dented the spirits of the Patriots.
After that, it was plain sailing for the Warriors, with Hetmyer blasting the 16th over bowled by Cutting for 15 runs inclusive of two breathtaking boundaries and a stunning six over deep mid-wicket. Fittingly, he got the strike in the 17th and what turned out to be the final over and he won the match when he smashed Joseph back past him for a boundary. In all, he struck nine boundaries and four sixes in 45 balls of pure mayhem. The Man-of-The-Match award had long been decided before the final rites of the exciting game.