Tue | Dec 5, 2023

Amazon Warriors end long wait for CPL title

Published:Tuesday | September 26, 2023 | 12:07 AM
Saim Ayub ... led the chase for Amazon Warriors  with an unbeaten 52 off 41 balls.
Saim Ayub ... led the chase for Amazon Warriors with an unbeaten 52 off 41 balls.


A determined Guyana Amazon Warriors ended an agonising decade-long wait for the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) title when they crushed four-time champions Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) by nine wickets in Sunday’s final to lift the coveted trophy here before an ecstatic fan base.

Having come up empty-handed in five previous finals, Amazon Warriors finally put their bad luck behind them with a ruthless performance at the Guyana National Stadium, bundling TKR out for a paltry 94 and then chasing down the target off 14 overs.

Pakistani opener Saim Ayub led the chase with an unbeaten 52 off 41 balls while Player-of-the-Series Shai Hope stroked an unbeaten run-a-ball 32, the pair anchoring the innings in an 84-run, unbroken second-wicket stand.

Hope ended the campaign with 481 runs at an average of 53 with Saim just behind him on 478 runs at an average of 43.

South African speedster Dwaine Pretorius, who ended as the leading wicket-taker with 20 scalps, had earlier set up the win with a devastating spell of four for 26, which saw TKR crumble cheaply at the start of the penultimate over.

Pretorius was supported by left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie (2-7) and leg-spinner Imran Tahir (2-8), both picking up two wickets apiece.

Keacy Carty top-scored with 38 but desperately lacked support as openers Mark Deyal (16) and Chadwick Walton (10) were the only other batsmen to reach double figures.

Amazon Warriors reached the final in the first two editions of the tournament in 2013 and 2014 before returning in 2016, 2018 and 2019, all without success.

“I am just really proud that I am the first captain of the first team to achieve this,” said an emotional captain Tahir.

“I think this year we were more hungry than ever before. That’s the thing. If you want something really badly, it will happen for you even though we lost our first qualifier.”

The defeat for TKR was their first in four trips to a CPL final, but captain Kieron Pollard said the batting performance always left them with the very difficult task of adding to their trophy haul.

“Obviously, it’s plain to see we didn’t bat properly. Making 94 in the first innings of a final was never going to be enough,” he said.

Sent in, TKR reached 24 in the third over courtesy of Deyal and Walton before things fell apart spectacularly, six wickets tumbling for just 25 runs in the space of 40 deliveries.

Pretorius shattered Deyal’s stumps in the third over before pacer Romario Shepherd hit Walton in front with one that kept low in the next over.

When Nicholas Pooran advanced to Pretorius at the end of the fifth over and mistimed an expansive stroke to mid-off to perish for one, TKR were in further trouble on 35 for three.

Both Pollard (0) and Akeal Hosein (1) were caught in the deep in the seventh over from Motie, and Andre Russell (3) fell in the 10th over trying to fetch a Tahir leg break from outside off-stump but managing only to find Pretorius at mid on.

With the innings tottering on 49 for six, Carty attempted a rescue, striking two fours and a six in a 45-ball knock as he put on 32 for the seventh wicket with veteran Dwayne Bravo (8).

In reply, Amazon Warriors’ ploy of using Keemo Paul as opener failed, the right-hander lashing two fours in 11 before finding Pollard at mid-off off Hosein’s left-arm spin, with 15 runs on the board in the third over.

Paul’s demise was but a mere hiccup, however, as Saim and Hope took command of the chase, as they had done so many times throughout the tournament.

The 21-year-old Saim, an elegant left-hander, struck two fours and five sixes – the last of which was a glorious straight hit off speedster Ali Khan which ended the contest – while Hope counted two fours.