With five runs to defend from the last delivery, Keemo Paul held his nerve to see Guyana record a three-run win over St. Lucia Stars at Providence National Stadium last evening in the 2018 HERO Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
Guyana bowled well to limit Stars to 138-7 from their 20 overs despite straying away in the middle overs after scoring 141-4 from their quota with the bowlers equally sharing the responsibility in a see-saw match.
Imran Tahir struck twice to remove the two set batsman after the power play while player of the match, Rayad Emrit was phenomenal late in the innings after snatching the wickets of his fellow countrymen Kieron Pollard and Lendl Simmons and Rahkeem Cornwall.
After the match, Emrit said this was the moment he lived for, noting that T20 cricket can change at anytime.
The allrounder pointed out that the bowling at the back end was exceptional and it was all about sticking to the plan and playing to their strengths in front of a sold out crowd full of energy and charisma.
Amazon Warriors skipper Shoaib Malik said it was difficult to play on the wicket, pointing out that batting in the sun since the game started in the afternoon was different from batting under the lights but credited his bowlers for bringing the game home.
Meanwhile, Stars captain, Pollard said he was not too keen on summarising the whole match but was critical of the slow start during the powerplay while also pinpointing the lack of boundaries and inability to see the game through to the end.
Stars won the toss and sent the Warriors in to bat.
Chadwick Walton started the innings off with shots reminiscent of textbook work, punching Mohammed Sami to the boundary in the first over before sinking his teeth into left-arm seamer, Mitchell McCleneghan with successive boundaries, elegantly piercing the inner ring at short cover and following up with a shuffle off the hips down to long leg while ending the over with a boundary down to third man.
With Sami returning, Walton showed his variety in shot selection, scooping him for the first six of the match over fine leg.
Stars made amends early on with leg breaker, Qais Ahmad, drawing Walton out for Andre Fletcher to execute the stumping, sending Walton on his way for 31 from 24 balls.
Warriors made full use of the power play, scoring 50 runs in the first six overs but could have lost Luke Ronchi who was dropped at long off for 18 after Pollard brought himself on.
Inform batsman, Shimron Hetmyer, who was promoted up the order to number three joined Ronchi and quickly got off the mark, with a single through cover off of Ahamad before following up with successive boundaries off of Pollard.
Subsequently the runs slowed up with Warriors reaching only 73-1 from their first 10 overs.
Ahmad was becoming a threat, removing Hetmyer who edged a googly to Fletcher for 21 to leave Warriors 86-2.
The 17-year-old Afghanistan star once again stuck, removing Malik for eight and closing off his four overs with figures of 3-15.
The spinners, finding success on the flat track, continued to silence the enormous crowd who celebrated the occasional boundary but were muted with the fall of regular wickets.
Off spinner Mark Chapman trapped Ronchi leg before wicket for almost a run a ball 42. Cornwall, another offspinner controlled the important 17th over with just three runs coming off of it.
Sherfane Rutherford in his first batting innings of CPL was very animated, smashing Cornwall down the ground for a six while Jason Mohammed began the final over with a six over wide long on. Williams recovered well to only give away four singles and see Warriors climb to 141-4 with Mohammed and Rutherford closing on 20 and 16 respectively.
Stars started their innings watchfully but were contained to just 29 in the powerplay despite Andre Fletcher and David Warner being at the crease. Chris Green was turning the ball well while Sohail Tanvir was getting it to zip away from the batsmen especially in the fifth over where he beat the outside edge of Warner on three occasions.
Warner did not last much longer after missing a sweep to Tahir and being trapped leg before wicket for 11 while Tahir followed up with the removal of Fletcher two balls later to stun the Stars at 30-2.
Pollard tried to reconstruct the innings with some cautious shots and quick singles aided by some wayward bowling by Keemo Paul who was pulled into the fence at mid-wicket to bring up the team fifty in the 10th over.
Tahir, tantalizing in his first three overs that went for only seven, saw the first ball of his last over crashing into the fence over his head for a six by Lendl Simmons who then went on his knees to hoick the leg spinner into the Red Stand at deep mid wicket.
Simmons shifted gear with a six down to long off to bring up the fifty partnership from 39 balls and soon launched off spinner, Chris Green into mid wicket for his fourth six to bring the equation down to 45 runs from 32 balls.
Tanvir, returning for his final over, had Simmons slashing square of the wicket only to be put down by Rutherford for 38.
Simmons didn’t spare the Warriors, making them pay for the dropped catch, launching Tanvir on the roof of the players’ pavilion at long on while smashing Emrit down the ground for a boundary.
Emrit would then have his man as Simmons’ entertaining innings of 45 from 39 balls came to an end, edging to the wicketkeeper Ronchi to bring Warriors back in the contest.
Emrit brought Warriors back into the match with the wicket of set batsman, Pollard who slashed to Mohammed at deep cover for 32 and bowled Cornwall the very next delivery to sit on a hat trick. He ended with 3-26 and Tahir 2-23.
Warriors, now with two wins will look to close off their first leg of Guyana matches on a positive note when they face Barbados Tridents tonight at 18:00 hrs.