CPL: Bowlers hold nerves to deliver tense win for Warriors

SUMMARY: Amazon Warriors 141-4 from 20 overs (Ronchi 42 off 41; Walton 31 off 24; Hetmyer 21 off 19; Mohammed 20* off 15; Rutherford 16* off 15; Ahmad 4-0-15-3; Mark Chapman 1-0-8-1) v St. Lucia Stars 138-7 from 20 overs (Simmons 45 off 39; Pollard 32 off 25; Emrit 4-0-26-3; Imran Tahir 4-0-23-2)

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By Akeem Greene

It was joy for Guyana Amazon Warriors and heartbreak for St. Lucia Stars, who tumbled to their 13th successive loss, a streak stretching back to 2016 Hero Caribbean Premier League.

A level-headed performance by Warriors, aided by reckless batting from Stars, allowed them to defend 142, winning by three runs, to go two-from-two after a nerve-wracking thriller at the National Stadium, Providence, on Saturday.

After a spell, worthy of Man-of-the-Match, by Rayad Emrit, coupled with Imran Tahir’s misery and exceptional death bowling by Keemo Paul, Warriors fans went home the loudest.

The drama started with 23 needed from 12 balls and six wickets in the hut.  Emrit produced a phenomenal 19th over- removing the threatening Kieron Pollard and Rahkeem Cornwall and just conceded seven.

It was now down to Paul to defend 16 and he uprooted Kavem Hodge’s stumps first ball. A six from Mitchell McClenaghan off the next ball made it dicey, but the rest was history as Paul ensured no Super Over occurred with five needed off the final ball.

The moment Keemo Paul realised he had successfully defended five off the last ball (Shatanand Anude photo)

Stars slow upfront

Andre Fletcher and David Warner were tested in the first six overs which only yielded 28 due to a zealous opening spell from Sohail Tanveer.  Trump card Imran Tahir was introduced and sent both openers packing with his clever deception.

A stranglehold was placed on the Stars. After the fifth over, no boundary was hit until the 10th where they crept to 50-2.

Pollard along with Lendl Simmons then silenced the crowd with a display of well-timed power-hitting. Both took a liking to Paul and Emrit and it seemed as if the Warriors missed the trick by not playing an extra spinner.

Simmons had some early luck against Tahir, but battered him on re-introduction, smashing him for 16 in the 13th over. Stars were back in the match scoring 49 runs in the 10-15 over period.

Warriors had a chance to quell the momentum building, but Sherfane Rutherford floored a standard chance at deep-cover with Simmons on 38.

The mishap looked costly with the right-hander drilling Emrit to long-off for four. The Trinidadian had his countryman soon after and the pendulum swung once more – the two had added 83 runs in 9.4 overs.

Luke Ronchi gathers runs during his topscore of 42 (Photo by Randy Brooks – CPL T20/Getty Images)

Improved start

Warriors added 50 in the Powerplay without the loss of any wicket. It was 13 short of their score against St Kitts Patriots in the previous match, however, three batsmen were already in the pavilion.

Chadwick Walton and Luke Ronchi wasted no time in coming out of first gear by belting McClenaghan for 15 in the third over then took 12 off Mohammed Sami in the fourth.

They were racing and fortune favoured the brave with Ronchi being dropped on 20 by Lendl Simmons. Luck ended when promising Afghanistan leg-spinner Qais Ahmed struck with his first delivery, drawing Walton out his crease.

The 17 year-old turned the screws tighter by getting the prized scalp of danger man Shimron Hetmyer before deceiving skipper Shoaib Malik with a ripping googly to end his innings-changing spell of 3-15 inside 15 overs; at the half-way stage Warriors were hauled back to 73-1.

Uncharacteristically, Ronchi did not make the most of his early life, and struggled to inspire the late innings surge.  An arm-ball by left-arm spinner Mark Chapman ended Ronchi’s painstaking innings of 42 for which he only hit two fours and one six in the 41 deliveries faced.

To put in context how well Stars’ bowlers dragged the match back level on a pitch that looked slow and low, only 36 was added in the last five overs by the Warriors. Jason Mohamed and Rutherford struck some lusty blows into the stands, but it was much too late.

Warriors will now play Barbados Tridents on Sunday (August 12) from 18:00h in the final group match of the opening leg.

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