Warriors clinch one-ball thriller to storm into CPL final

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. Shimron Hetmyer receives his man-of-the-match award from Minister of State Joseph Harmon

– beat TKR by two wickets

IN what has widely been termed the most engaging Hero Caribbean Premier League season of all, the Guyana Amazon Warriors have defied predictions to become the first to reach the final.

Leg-spinner Imran Tahir and his
team-mates after the dismissal of
Denesh Ramdin.

Retaining the core of their players with some smart new purchases proved immense for the Amazon Warriors, as they beat table-toppers Trinbago Knight Riders for the second time in a row to move to Sunday’s final.

Sherfane Rutherford made a stupendous 17-ball 30 knock, while Shimron Hetmyer (39 off 36 balls) was equally brilliant. But Romario Shepherd and Sohail Tanvir proved to be the magicians at the end to ensure the Warriors reach their fourth final in the six-year CPL history.

Earlier, on a chilly night at Providence, it was the Trinbago Knight Riders who were caught cold. The Amazon Warriors were simply too good, too slick and too well-drilled upfront. Deciding to bowl first on a good batting wicket, the Warriors’ bowlers  played their part to restrict the Knight Riders’ powerful batting line-up to just 122-7.

This score looked unlikely, when they were reduced to 26-4 in the powerplay.

Darren Bravo (24) and Colin Ingram (25), were involved in an important partnership. Though neither of them managed to get going, it allowed the duo of Dwayne Bravo (22) and Kevin Cooper (15) to up the ante towards the end.

Tanvir (2-38), gave the hosts the first break through, when he trapped Brendon McCullum leg before wicket without scoring in the first over. But it was their slow bowlers, particularly Chris Green, who seized the early momentum with tight lines and immaculate, unhittable lengths. His four overs went for just eight runs with the wickets of Colin Munro (0) and Sunil Narine (8).

Munroe, the leading run-scorer  this season, was caught at extra cover, while Narine was taken at mid-off.

Denesh Ramdin came and hit three fours off Tanvir in the third over, but leg-spinner Imran Tahir (1-22), prevented the Knight Riders from gathering momentum when he trapped Ramdin LBW in the fifth over.

Ingram and Darren Bravo joined forces in the middle, but despite a few boundaries, the innings meandered along at a glacial pace.

Bravo was put down by Tanvir at mid-off, but after returning for his second spell, the Pakistani produced a length ball that shaped away from Bravo, which took the edge through to the keeper.

Soon after, Emrit (2-22), removed Ingram before Dwayne Bravo and Cooper took the score past 120.

The Guyana Amazon Warriors celebrate the dismissal of
Brendon McCullum who was trapped leg before to Sohail Tanvir
(2-38), without scoring, in the first over. (Adrian Narine photos)

For the Amazon Warriors, the target was never out of reach, though they faltered at the start. The Knight Riders then looked like making it difficult for the three-time finalists, reducing them to 52-5 at the end of the 12th over. But  their calculated run-chase saw the Amazon Warriors reach the target in 19.5 overs.

Knight Riders spinners – Fawad Ahmed (1-19), Sunil Narine (1-9) and Khary Pierre (2-18), did well to contain the Warriors batsmen up front.

Ahmed removed Cameron Delport (2), while Pierre claimed Luke Ronchi (13), and Chris Green (0), Narine had Jason Mohammed (3) before Chadwick Walton was run out for 13, but Hetmyer and Rutherford then swung the tide in the Warriors’ favour.

At this point in time, Guyana were strolling home but an ill-judged single cost Hetmyer’s wicket and TKR were allowed to get back into the game. With Rutherford being snuffed out next ball and Emrit following him soon, it seemed as though Guyana would falter.

But they found an unlikely hero in Shepherd – who smashed a 6-ball 13 and the seasoned campaigner in Tanvir to help them pull off the chase.

Shepherd muscled Bravo for a first-ball six to leave the equation at 12 runs off 12 balls.

The Warriors scored eight runs from the 19th over, courtesy of Shepherd who slash a boundary off Kevon Cooper past point. That boundary definitely hurt the Knight Riders, with four runs from the last over.

Dwayne Bravo conceded a single off the first ball and there were then three dot balls before Tanvir sealed the victory in style with a straight six.

The defending champions can still reach the final, when they play the winner of today’s eliminator between St Kitts and Nevis Patriots and the Jamaica Tallawahs, on Friday.