Guyana Amazon Warriors 126 for 8 (Hetmyer 39, Rutherford 30, Pierre 2-18) beat Trinbago Knight Riders 122 for 7 (Ingram 25, Green 2-8, Emrit 2-22) by two wickets
In a tense low-scorer, hometown boys Shimron Hetmyer and Sherfane Rutherford reprised their heroics from Sunday, against the same opponent, before Sohail Tanvir struck the game-clinching blow, with a ball to spare, as Guyana Amazon Warriors made their fourth CPL final, with a two-wicket win over Trinbago Knight Riders at the Providence Stadium.
Amazon Warriors made the most of home-field advantage in the early phase of the playoffs as the home team's spinners held Trinbago Knight Riders to 122, before surviving their own testing times against the opposition spinners to scrape home in the final over.
The list of dubious calls continue
The CPL organizers made the decision last week to have DRS in place for the second Qualifier and the final, in response to more than a dozen howlers this season. Unfortunately for the Knight Riders, the organisers decided to not extend DRS for all the playoffs, and it resulted in the visiting side receiving two decisions that more than likely would have been overturned on review.
The first came at the end of the opening over, bowled by Tanvir. Brendon McCullum played well outside the line of a hooping inswinger that struck him in line with middle stump. However, he was also hit extremely high on the thigh guard. Umpire Leslie Reifer felt the line was a more compelling piece of evidence than the height and gave him out, much to the batsman's dismay. Replays showed his frustration was justified as the ball would have likely carried over the stumps.
Reifer then made another questionable call, in the fifth over, that accounted for Denesh Ramdin. The batsman swept at a very full ball from Imran Tahir and was struck on the front heel, which replays indicated was fully positioned outside the line of off stump. Instead of being able to review both decisions, Knight Riders lost both batsmen.
Knight Riders lost not so much due to bad umpiring as due to their own inability to adjust quickly to a wicket that offered tremendous assistance to the slower bowlers. Finger spinners, in particular, found great success, starting with the Amazon Warriors captain Chris Green. The Australian struck in the second over, when a short of a length ball to Colin Munro stuck in the pitch, and the CPL's leading scorer couldn't keep his hands back on an intended cut and spooned a catch to extra cover.
Green struck in near identical fashion in the sixth. Sunil Narine, promoted back to opener after scoring just 57 runs in the league stage, tried to swat a short ball through cover, but, due to the slowness of the surface, instead dragged to mid-off, offering a simple catch. By the end of the Powerplay, Knight Riders were 26 for 4. Colin Ingram and Darren Bravo's partnership that followed lasted nearly half the innings, but only accounted for 48 runs. A late boost from Kevon Cooper and Dwayne Bravo helped the visitors claw past 100 and gave them a fighting chance.
Narine practically matched Green note-for-note with his spell, ending with 1 for 9 in four overs as he produced grip and rip on virtually every ball, starting in the second over. TKR had the advantage of playing one more specialist spinner than Guyana, and it almost won them the match in the end. Following Ali Khan's opening over, Narine, Fawad Ahmed and Khary Pierre bowled 12 straight overs of spin to strangle the hosts.
Fawad struck first in the third, getting Cameron Delport to hole out to deep midwicket. Luke Ronchi then top-edged a pull off Pierre to Narine at square leg to make it 23 for 2 at the end of the Powerplay, and by the halfway mark the hosts had added just 14 more to their score. Pierre swung the chase TKR's way with a spectacular diving stop, scoop and run out off his own bowling to dismiss Chadwick Walton, and then found Green's edge two balls later with the final delivery of his spell to leave Guyana 55 for 5 after 13.
Keeping up the pace
Knight Riders' 12 overs of spin were complete, and despite an imposing required run rate of close to 10 on a tricky pitch, Hetmyer and Rutherford capitalized with pace back on the ball. Rutherford pierced Khan for two boundaries in the 15th, before driving Bravo for six early in the 16th. Another six over long-on by Hetmyer off Cooper in the 17th took the equation down to 21 off 20 balls.
TKR sprung back to life, though, courtesy a mix-up between the batsmen that resulted in Hetmyer's run out through a direct hit from point by Ingram. Rutherford drove Cooper to Bravo at long-off off the very next ball, leaving the tail to get Amazon Warriors across the line. Bravo had Rayad Emrit edging behind in the following over to put Knight Riders two wickets away from victory with 18 still to get.
But Romario Shepherd clubbed his first ball for six to bring the equation down to a run a ball heading into the final two overs. Shepherd struck another crucial boundary through backward point off Cooper in the 19th, and took a single off the first ball of the 20th to make it three off five to win. Tanvir failed to put away three consecutive slower balls from Bravo, before a length ball was heaved back over Bravo's head and over the rope to seal the match.