This clash between second and third was one of the more anticipated games of the Caribbean Premier League thus far, but to say it justified the hype would be stretching the truth to Orwellian proportions. The Guyana Amazon Warriors clinched the win against the St Lucia Zouks, and did so by seven wickets with six overs to spare at the Brian Lara Stadium tonight.
It came in a manner so comfortable one wondered why this had been billed as a marquee clash, but for the second time in two days, Chris Green and his band of spinners stifled an opposition batting line-up, meaning the Warriors had just 110 to chase. A belligerent half-century from Shimron Hetmyer ensured there’d be no drama of the kind that briefly imperiled his side yesterday, and the Warriors got there at a canter in the end.
Having reduced the hapless Barbados Tridents to 27 for 8 on Tuesday and just 92 overall, the Warriors had much the same in mind this time when they won the toss, put the Zouks in and had them 26 for 3 at the end of the Powerplay. Green went wicketless, but Imran Tahir, Kevin Sinclair and Naveen-ul-Haq all picked up the slack, with Naveen and Tahir bowling consecutive maiden overs in the Powerplay to effect a stranglehold Daren Sammy’s side never quite emerged from. Even as Rakheem Cornwall struck a couple of sixes at the start, the momentum was never with him, and Romario Shepherd would soon account for him.
Staring disaster at 59 for 6, the Zouks did rally, much as the Tridents did 24 hours earlier as the Warriors lifted the pressure, and Green spread the field out, comfortable in the knowledge the damage had already been inflicted. It allowed Mohammad Nabi, Javel Glen and Scott Kuggeleijn to contribute with cameos at the end that took the score into three figures, but having only managed 109, the Zouks were well aware they’d need a performance as explosive as the one that saw them defend 94 earlier on in the tournament.
To say that didn’t happen was something of an understatement. The Warriors were aggressive without being reckless at the start, taking seven an over off the Powerplay, while the Zouks could ill-afford the profligacy with which Kuggeleijn began. Four wides in the over shone a light on his side’s general sloppiness, and a brisk cameo from Chandrapaul Hemraj ensured the bowlers were never able to apply the squeeze. When he did fall, a soft dismissal to a Nabi long hop, the run rate had fallen below seven, and there appeared the tiniest window of opportunity for the Zouks to make a game of it. Hetmyer, who had begun cautiously, however, would soon make a mockery of that.
If you felt you’d stepped into an alternate universe where T20 cricket was played as defensively and ineptly with the bat as possible, these six balls served a welcome antidote to that dystopia. Hemraj had just gone, and Chemar Holder came into the attack. Holder, the Barbadian fast bowler who shares an Under-19 World Cup triumph with Hetmyer, began with a predictable short ball, that Hetmyer thumped over cow corner for six, before trying his luck again, only to meet the same fate. The three balls that followed fetched another three boundaries, a glorious cover drive, a pugnacious square cut and one that was clobbered over the hapless Holder’s head. The over went for 24 runs and the match and night were as good as over for the Zouks.
Hetmyer, predictably, was named Man of the Match for his 36-ball 56 that included six boundaries and three sixes.
Warriors are now second on the table with 10 points from nine games, inclusive of five wins and four defeats. They have clinched a semi-final spot. Zouks also have 10 points from eight games with five wins and three losses. Jamaica Tallawahs have six points from seven games with three wins and four defeats. The Barbados Tridents, the defending champions and unlikely to make the final four, have four points from eight games with two wins and six defeats. St Kitts/Nevis Patriots are basically out of contention with a mere two points from eight games, representing one win and seven losses. Semifinalists Trinidad and Tobago Knight Riders are the runaway leaders with 16 points having won all eight of their games. (Cricinfo)