Guyana Amazon Warriors continue to keep pace with Trinbago Knight Riders as their spin attack dismantled the St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots at Warner Park, bowling out the hosts for 121 in 19 overs before romping past the target in a seven-wicket win on Saturday night.
Spinners accounted for seven of the first eight wickets to fall, a runout by Imran Tahir producing the other, before Keemo Paul wiped out the tail in a dominant bowling effort. Brandon King then clattered a rapid 49 in the Powerplay as half the target was knocked off by the end of the sixth over. Shoaib Malik and Nicholas Pooran picked up the slack scoring an unbeaten 24 and 18 respectively to take Amazon Warriors over the line with 25 balls to spare.
Spin to Win
Amazon Warriors' strategy of opening with spin from both ends has flummoxed opposition early in CPL 2019 and this match was no different. After struggling to get Chandrapaul Hemraj's left-arm spin away in the first over, Devon Thomas was defeated by a skiddy delivery from Chris Green to start the second. Laurie Evans had done well to negotiate Green, Hemraj and Tahir through the rest of the Powerplay until the final ball when he tried to take on Tahir's arm from short fine leg and was run out with a direct hit at the striker's end for 26.
It proved to be a pivotal moment as Qais Ahmad was soon whittling through the line-up. Mohammad Hafeez, who was brought in to open in place of Evin Lewis after the local star was injured playing football in warm-ups, couldn't get the elevation on a drive against Qais and picked out Shimron Hetmyer at long-off for 14.
Tahir then struck twice in the ninth, first trapping Jason Mohammed playing down the wrong line for 4 before Dominic Drakes top-edged a slog sweep that fell safely into the hands of Qais at midwicket in the ring for 2. Shamarh Brooks tried his best to counter-attack scoring 34 in a 44-run stand with Fabian Allen but eventually fell skying a drive to Hetmyer off Qais. Qais took his third three balls later when Allen fell sweeping to Keemo Paul at deep square leg, helping him earn Player-of-the-Match honours.
Green came back to knock over Joseph for the eighth wicket, skying a catch to King at point. By this stage captain Carlos Brathwaite was running out of partners and tried to take on Paul but only managed to find Green at long-on. Two balls later, Paul had his second to end the innings with one over to spare when he lunged to his left to pull off a sharp return catch off Cottrell. After the run-fest between the Knight Riders and Jamaica Tallawahs 24 hours earlier, Patriots' performance looked especially limp.
King of Warner Park
The 24-year-old Amazon Warriors right-hander just missed out on what would have been his second career T20 fifty. But King still did more than plenty to deflate what hope Patriots might have had of defending the meagre target by striking his 49 at better than 200.
After a skewed drive over point for his first boundary off Sheldon Cottrell in the first over, he meted out severe punishment in the third against the left-arm quick. A cut behind point produced his second boundary on the third ball of the over before he smashed a length ball out of the ground over midwicket for six. A sumptuous drive through extra cover followed for another four before he glided a full toss behind point for another boundary to end an 18-run over.
Allen wasn't spared either replacing Cottrell for the fifth. Getting his length a touch too short in the fifth, Allen was carted over long-on for six. The left-arm spinner appeared to defeat King in flight on the fifth ball of the over but King released one hand off the bat for a tennis backhand over long-off to complete another audacious six. Back-to-back fours in the sixth off Hafeez took him to 49 but his innings came to an end when he tried to pinch a tight single to square leg off the final ball of the Powerplay that Hemraj hesitated in response to, and by the time King tried to get back in his crease, Mohammed had relayed to Thomas to catch him two yards short.
But by this stage King had done the bulk of the heavy lifting for the visitors. Despite two more wickets falling - Hemraj and Hetmyer - Pooran and Shoaib set their modes to cruise control and went through the rest of the chase unfussed. Victory was eventually clinched with a wide in the 16th over.