CPL: Amazon Warriors choke in low run-chase

SUMMARY: Jamaica Tallawahs 128-7 (Phillips 51, Simmons 20, Foo 20, Jacobs 2-18, Emrit 2-24, Khan 2-38) v Guyana Amazon Warriors 126-4 (Walton 37, Guptill 33, Mohammed 24, Azam 23, Williams 3-30).

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By Avenash Ramzan

Wickets in hand, a manageable required rate, a buoyant flag-waving near-capacity crowd, yet the Guyana Amazon Warriors conjured a way to wander away from a victory against Jamaica Tallawahs on Thursday night.

They started the game fifth on the table; and they left the Stadium no better off. No fault of the bowlers; cast the blame on the batsmen or those who devise the strategy.

Whoever is the culprit, the fact remains the Warriors left Providence with more questions hanging over a misfiring batting line-up, who must inevitably be held responsible for the four losses from five matches, the second worst performance behind the winless St. Lucia Stars this season.

At the halfway stage, Tallawahs’ 128-7 seemed an uncomplicated target, even for a struggling batting line-up. Twenty overs later, it proved just enough- two runs more than what the Warriors would get in a chase that plummeted in the dying stages.

Warriors skipper Martin Guptill was bowled off a short delivery

After 10 overs, the Warriors were standing firm at 61-0; Chadwick Walton taking the lead role and skipper Martin Guptill playing second fiddle. The partnership would extend to 67 before Walton’s slog to an off-cutter from Kesrick Williams peeled off the top edge for substitute Trevon Griffith to complete the catch at backward point. Walton gone for 37 off 33 (3x4s).

Seven balls later, Guptill was too early on the pull to a short delivery from Garey Mathurin and the Zinger bails went off at 76-2 in the 13th over. His departure for 33 off 41 (2x4s) forged an alliance between the in-form Jason Mohammed and an out-of-sort Babar Azam, holding the critical number three position.

They brought the equation down to 40 off the last five overs, and Tallawahs skipper Kumar Sangakkara opted for experience and youth at the ‘death’, trusting the outcome on the seasoned campaigners Mohammed Sami and Krishmar Santokie and cricket’s newest ‘death’ over specialist Williams.

Williams conceded a wide and six singles in the 16th; Sami went for seven and eight in the 17th and 19th respectively and Santokie leaked 10 off the 18th, including the only boundary during that phase, a huge six by Mohammed over long-on.

That meant Williams was left to defend eight off the final six balls against two batsmen, who up to that point had chalked up 20 singles and just two boundaries since they joined forces in the 13th over.

A single and a dot followed by a misfield on the boundary, which yielded three runs, left the Warriors needing four off three balls. Pressure mounted when Azam was taken at long-on off the fourth delivery, after soaking up 27 deliveries for his boundary-less 23. That left Roshan Primus to get three off the final ball after Mohammed got a single off the fifth.

Leg-spinner Rashid Khan exults after picking up a wicket

 

Williams, being the T20 go-to crisis bowler he has become, served up a slower length ball outside off and Primus got height, but not distance with his slog sweep and was taken at deep midwicket to gag the bias home crowd. Mohammed ended on 24 off 18.

Williams’ 3-30 earned him the Player-of-the-Match accolade, but more importantly lifted Tallawahs, the reigning champions, to second on the points table.

That seemed a highly unlikely scenario at the halfway mark, as Warriors bowlers had kept a stranglehold on Tallawahs. The Powerplay yielded 35-1 and after 10 it was 52-2 with Lendl Simmons (20) and Andre McCarthy (8) back in the dugout.

Glenn Phillips, in just his second CPL match, was holding the innings together, as Sangakkara (5) and Rovman Powell (7) again fell cheaply. Tallawahs were 86-4 after 15 when Jonathon Foo joined Phillips and they added a brisk 33 of the 42 runs that came off the last five overs.

Phillips topscored with 51 off 47 balls and Foo, for the third consecutive match this season, brought impetus in the ‘death’ overs, striking at 166.66 in his 20 off 12 (2x4s, 1×6).

Steven Jacobs again impressed with 2-18, including the prized scalp of Sangakkara, and Rashid Khan and Rayad Emrit nabbed two each, while Sohail Tanvir and Veerasammy Permaul had 1-33 from their combined eight.

Those are excellent numbers to have, but later in the evening they would count for nothing as the little matter of two runs turned what seemed like impending joy for the home team into agony and despair. 

The Warriors’ journey to the playoff just got a bit tougher.

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