The undefeated 81 of Brandon King helped Guyana Amazon Warriors to a great seven-by-seven win to their 2019 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) campaign with a comfortable eight-wicket win over St. Lucia Zouks in the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground to start.
The Warriors will be guaranteed a top-two finish and a place in the first qualifier for a place in the final with the safety net of a second chance should they lose it.
The Zouks remain in fourth but may need to win both games remaining to have a good chance of staying there, as the Tridents are only one point behind with two games.
No such concerns for the Warriors provided by Chandrapaul Hemraj, who battered two fours and three hero maxima in a 20-ball-33 and put Guyana before the knockout stages, provided the ideal start to their quest for victory – over the needed rate at the start.
When he fell and fired a shot from Fawad Ahmed, King took the responsibility, as he was relatively quiet while Hemraj did his thing. All but one of King’s six-sixes came after Hemraj was fired, and despite the loss of Shimron Hetmyer for just five by a backlog that displeased him, the Warriors reached the 10-over mark exactly halfway to their Target at 81/2 with many punch options that are yet to be expected. They did not need it, King and Shoaib Malik, who ended on the 30th and the Warriors passed by with almost two overs at the finish to save an unbroken 92-run stand for the third wicket.
After 12 Overs, the required rate of 8.1 had fallen from the last 10, which hardly ran a ball thanks to King. He took Barnwell’s first three balls for two sixes and one four, with Shoaib Malik scoring four more through the backward point to round off an over, putting 21 on the total. On the way, King reached another classic half-century and the Warriors passed 100.
Suddenly the target was a routine 49 out of 48 and from then on it was a cruise for the table toppers, Malik stroked the winning single with 10 balls on the floor.
There used to be another master class in spin bowling from the Warriors. All six overs of the powerplay were bobbed by spinners, with Chris Green and Imran Tahir being particularly impressive. Her five overs under the field restrictions gave up only 20 runs. Eventually, the pair dropped 10 consecutive deliveries between them without taking a run while the Zouks lost their first two wickets.
Andre Fletcher was the first to ride a mile to the skies of St. Lucia and was well held by Ben Laughlin to give Tahir the first of his two doors. The second was a bad moment for Rahkeem Cornwall, who could not run his club any longer and was so far over the crease that he almost got his foot under it.
From 21/0 to three Overs the Zouks 24/2 was in the sixth. The Colins Ingram and de Grandhomme set about repairing the damage. De Grandhomme finished the runless series by putting Green in Midwicket on the grass benches.
Ingram contributed 25 of 14 balls to a 56-round stand before tapping Tahir deep, hard and shallow to the long-off, where Green held a stinging run.
However, De Grandhomme went further and reached an excellent half-century – his first in the Hero CPL – from only 27 balls with four Hero Maximums.
What he lacked, however, was further support in the Ingram style. Jahmar Hamilton and Daren Sammy each made 9 out of 10 and 15 balls, and the pressure to accelerate the rating began to impact on de Grandhomme, who was duly kicked out for 65 when there were still three overs left for which he could do damage.
Barnwell gave the Zouks one last chance by overtaking Shepherd for three consecutive sixes in the 19th, but Laughlin’s 20th was great. He took two doors and only admitted three singles to finish off with three eye-catching numbers from 3/3, leaving the Zouks far behind where they needed to be.