Nine in nine for Amazon Warriors after stellar Malik, Rutherford repair job
Guyana Amazon Warriors 156 for 6 (Malik 73*, Rutherford 45, Derval Green 2-23, Thomas 2-40) beat Jamaica Tallawahs 79 (Phillips 21, Liton 21, Tahir 3-12, Paul 2-2, Qais 2-20) by 77 runs
Guyana Amazon Warriors. Table toppers, unbeaten, full of confidence. What could go wrong? Well, eight balls into the game, they lost four wickets to Oshane Thomas and Derval Green. Intriguingly, both of them were on hat-tricks at that stage, with Thomas' wickets coming off the last two balls of the first over and Green's off the first two balls of the second.
Neither of them got there, and with their backs to the wall, Shoaib Malik, the only overseas captain in CPL 2019, resurrected the innings via an 82-run stand with Sherfane Rutherford. Malik finished unbeaten on 73 to help Amazon Warriors post 156. This was 77 too many for Jamaica Tallawahs, who looked defeated at the halfway mark itself, and were bowled out in 16.3 overs. Amazon Warriors, meanwhile, remain unbeaten in CPL 2019 with one league game remaining.
The four-in-four magic
This was by all means a bat-first pitch. Tallawahs knew it would get slower and stop on the batsmen as the game progressed, which is why they couldn't have bargained for a better start. In the very first over, Thomas bowled Brandon King as he backed away to slap a length ball over cover, and then had Shimron Hetmyer caught behind, albeit in controversial circumstances with replays suggesting no conclusive evidence for the edge.
Off the first two balls of the next over, Green beat Chandrapaul Hemraj for pace by pushing him back and flattening the leg stump before getting Nicholas Pooran lbw with a full inswinger that tailed in late to crash into the pads. Eight balls, eight runs, four wickets. Tallawahs were on fire.
Malik and Rutherford walked in to a crisis and walked out of one very quickly. From the fourth to seventh overs, Rutherford counter-attacked to ensure they had at least one boundary every over. Off Green's second, Rutherford carved out three fours to put the pressure right back. Malik quickly slipped into the role of second fiddle, the pair raising their half-century stand off just 39 balls; Rutherford's contribution was 33.
Tallawahs were slightly shaken by the counter and continued to slip, not even Rutherford's wicket to break the stand coming as a respite. They had let Malik off the hook on 20 when Zahir Khan misjudged and eventually put down a sitter at short fine-leg in the 12th over off Dwayne Smith.
This merely proved to be the trigger for Malik to go on the attack as he brought up a half-century off just 35 deliveries. Then he took apart Thomas at the death as the bowler erred consistently in lengths to concede 26 off the penultimate over. Malik finished on 73 not out and Amazon Warriors had momentum by their side.
Tallawahs stifled in the Powerplay
Chris Green quietly continues to make heads turn. The Australian selectors may well have an excellent Powerplay spin option to consider for next year's T20 World Cup, because he is accurate, economical, gets the ball to skid, bounce and varies his angles well. All this helped get rid of Chris Gayle first ball when Green went around the stumps and got one to fizz straight on and beat Gayle on the inside edge. Malik cleverly went with spin at the other end too, with Imran Tahir, who had Chadwick Walton hole out to long-on in the fourth over.
Glenn Phillips and Liton Das limped to 26 for 2 in the Powerplay. Phillips looked to up the ante as he hit Qais Ahmed, the Afghanistan legspinner, for successive fours in the seventh over to signal a change in intent, but with the asking rate spiraling, he holed out at long-on. It was the start of another collapse, the second of the night.
Team hat-trick, again
Qais impressed with his variety and his back-flip celebrations, too. He had Smith with a ripping legbreak and Imran Khan with a topspinner off the last two balls off the 14th over. Off the first ball of the next, Keemo Paul, the only fast bowler employed by Amazon Warriors, had Liton mistime a pull straight to midwicket. Steven Jacobs averted four in four by a hair's breadth as a strong lbw appeal was turned down, with replays proving he may have been struck a tad too high. Two balls later, he too was gone and Tallawahs were 70 for 8. It summed up a sorry tale of a season where whatever could go wrong went wrong.