Fireworks from Naveen Ul Haq and mature batting from Brandon King caused the Guyana Amazon Warriors (GAW) to surge to their 4th win of the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2020 tournament, further solidifying their spot in the top four ahead of next week’s semifinals.
It all went wrong for the Barbados Tridents in both team’s first game back at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba, Trinidad and Tobago, but the tale-enders fought to get the Tridents to a respectable total at the end of 20 overs.
The Tridents were close enough to taste history repeating itself at 27-8. The reminder of their low scoring affairs against the Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel in 2013 and the Guyana Amazon Warriors in 2017, when they only managed to scrape 59 runs, proved to be the ghosts of failures past for the Tridents; and, as such, the Barbadians fought tooth and nail to realign their path.
Tridents’ horror story
The first innings of the game could not compare to the horrors of Annabelle, the Conjuring, or A Quiet Place, as the tale of the Barbados Tridents’ deteriorating batting performances was at an all-season low on Tuesday evening.
Those who saw their outing against the St. Lucia Zouks on Sunday morning would think that it could not get worse, or that the team would return to the drawing board to get it right; but nothing of the sort occurred.
Kevin Sinclair again proved why he should have been included sooner in the playing XI, churning out yet another economical spell of 2-14 from his four overs.
Following the lead of Captain Chris Green, who removed opener Justin Greaves via lbw in the first over, Sinclair pitched one up to Johnson Charles, who jumped at the opportunity to clear the ropes. What Charles did not anticipate, however, was the agile Shimron Hetmyer sprinting 25 yards from long on to take a Republic Bank classic catch on the boundary.
As they rotated the bowling between themselves, Sinclair and the Captain took turns in removing the Barbados Tridents batsmen. Barbados and Windies Red ball captain Jason Holder probably created a fictitious second run in his mind off the bowling of Green, as he charged back to the top of the non-striker’s end. But as fate would have it, the ball beat him to the punch, and Nicholas Pooran removed the bails to dismiss him.
Sinclair was again brilliant in the fourth, evoking praise from ‘hardened’ commentator Ian Bishop for his bowling and overall disposition. Sinclair was planted after delivering a ball to Shai Hope, who kindly returned it to the hands of the bowler, causing him to launch into his now famous somersault celebration.
The next few overs passed quietly and without a boundary as the Tridents’ middle order tried to take the reins of the game. At 19-4 the Tridents were noticeably reeling on the track to the lowest CPL score ever, but instead of taking the upward trod, the only direction they could foresee was downhill.
With the seamer Naveen Ul Haq approaching the crease, the Tridents probably took him too lightly, failing to perceive the havoc that he was about to wreak on the team. His first delivery was dispatched to deep third man for a single, and the second effected a silly run out similar to the Captain’s, to send Jonathan Carter back to the dugout.
Mayers, who survived an embarrassing run out fiasco two balls earlier, could not stand up to the bowling much longer. He looked to play the big shot, but found Pooran leaving his spot behind the stumps and sprinting back to the boundary to scoop up a whirling catch.
Naveen again showed his prowess in the 12th, causing Ashley Nurse to go after the bouncer. What Nurse did not take into account was Romario Shepherd manning the boundary, who had only to jog in a few yards to take a clean catch.
Naveen delivered his fourth ball to Raymond Reifer, who gloved the ball into the air, and it dropped right down Pooran’s throat.
Back in 2013, the lowest ever Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) score was etched into the history books when the Barbados Tridents took on the Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel at the Kensington Oval, Barbados. Although the Tridents weathered the storm and made it through, their score of 27/8 was a horrific reminder of that game, in which they were the aggressors.
But New Zealander Mitchell Santner refused to allow history to repeat itself, as he struck up the most unusual of partnerships with Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan.
Santner punished Imran Tahir with the first boundary of the game, a Hero Maximum over long on. Santner got away with another boundary, making it the most expensive over of the game yet, with 13 runs.
Keemo Paul, who hadn’t looked himself in the last game, was off his mark once again, going for 12 in his first over, being sent over the ropes twice by Rashid.
Santner was cognizant of Rashid’s eagerness to go, and played the perfect supporting role at times, while finding the occasional boundary and doubles between the wickets.
The partnership, which proved to be the lifeline for the Barbadians, racked up 48 runs, getting them to 75–8 before Rashid fell to his fellow Afghan Naveen, as Sinclair picked up a beauty just in front the boundary ropes.
New batsman Hayden Walsh Junior sneaked in one last four in the 19th, before enduring a sub-par final over.
Eager to sneak in a third run on the final ball, Santner was run out by Shepherd to give the Warriors an even 10. The Tridents finished on 92 all out.
Brandon is back!
The first over bowled by Jason Holder went for a maiden, and questions began to loom in regard to whether or not the Warriors would face the same challenges that the Tridents faced in their attempt to chase down the meagre total.
However, a boundary from Brandon King in the second looked sweetly familiar to the beautiful stroke play that fans got accustomed to see coming from him in 2019.
Sinclair did not show up on Tuesday night, and the proof was in the overly anticipated shot that saw a quick one from Rashid Khan racing past the batsman out of his crease and straight onto the stumps.
Shimron Hetmyer struck a lucky boundary upon his entry, but soon fell in similar fashion to Sinclair, being left a-begging as Walsh bowled him clean.
The recently ascended CPL centurion Nicholas Pooran was cool, calm and collected in his approach, looking starkly different from his demeanour on Sunday last. Pooran barely struck at 54.54, as he allowed Brandon King to find his rhythm after 7 games of falling short of his expectations.
King looked at home in the crease once again, and he soon evened out his runs to match the balls that he poked and prodded while finding his form earlier in the innings.
On a few occasions, however, King tucked away the boundary to showcase glimpses of his master class. 4 fours, 2 sixes and numerous singles later, King reached his first half century of the 2020 season in 48 balls; and one ball earlier, struck his 1000th T20n run.
The pair, who held a 58-run partnership, didn’t look to go over the top, but rather physically run down the total, getting to their required 93 in 16.4 overs with a hustled single between the wickets.
The Warriors won the match by eight wickets, with 3.2 overs to spare.
Naveen Ul Haq expectedly picked up the man-of-the-match award for his 4-14, and was pleased about his performance. He stated, “It feels great to contribute to a win. We needed a win to qualify for the semi-finals or be in the race, so it felt great to contribute to my team. It’s usually our spinners that do the job up front, but today our strategy was this: that I’ll be bowling after the 10th over. When I saw the wicket, I felt it would help the seamers a little bit. I hit my lengths and luckily got four wickets.
“I think it’s more important to get on a roll at the end and not at the start. Last year we won everything at the start, but not the final. It’s a very good look for Afghanistan. Many youngsters are watching back home, and are encouraged to come here and play in the future.”
Another man elated about the win was Captain Chris Green, who expressed his satisfaction with every player who contributed to the victory.
“Perfect start. 20-odd for 8, fantastic start with the ball from all our bowlers. In T20 cricket, there’s always going to be a partnership, so we had to hang in there, hang tough, and I was really proud of the fielding effort. To get three runouts in a T20 game is fantastic. With the bat, we asked two guys to put their hands up and do the hard yards. Brandon King did that, and then Nicholas Pooran continued his good form. For Naveen to come in the middle and be as consistent and clear as he was and execute his plans to take 4 for 14 is an outstanding effort. He’s been a blessing for this side. He’s a young bowler who bowls with a wealth of experience”.
On Kevin Sinclair, he said: “To bowl 8 overs straight, three overs through the Powerplay and then one outside in back-to-back games on debut just shows his class. The last couple of games has given us a clear idea of what we want moving forward. It’s good to see different guys putting their hands up at different times.”
The Guyana Amazon Warriors will face the St Lucia Zouks in their 9th preliminary game at 5.30pm today.