TRINBAGO Knight Riders (TKR) stormed into the final of the 2023 Republic Bank Caribbean Premier League with a seven-wicket win over Guyana Amazon Warriors at Providence Stadium, Guyana on Wednesday.
TKR played their best match against Amazon Warriors for the tournament, after losing two matches to the Guyana franchise in the group phase of the tournament.
After being inserted to bat, Amazon Warriors scored 166/7 in 20 overs, before TKR responded comfortably with 167/3 in 18.1 overs, led by a cracking 80 not out (57 balls) from Jamaican Chadwick Walton.
The Amazon Warriors top order has fired in this tournament, led by Saim Ayub and Shai Hope. However, the TKR bowlers kept them relatively quiet keeping the boundaries to a minimum early on. Ayub could only get to ten off 12 balls, before breaking the shackles by pulling fast bowler Andre Russell for six.
Amazon Warriors rode their luck as both openers Ayub and Odean Smith found the inside edge that raced to the boundary.
Smith got a chance when he was dropped in the sixth over, after bowler Terrance Hinds and cover fielder Walton collided trying to complete the catch.
Left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein got the breakthrough as Smith was caught by Kaecy Carty at the mid-wicket boundary for 15 off 18 balls.
Another left-arm spinner in Waqar Salamkheil dismissed the prolific Shai Hope for just two, caught by Walton at long on for two attempting a slog sweep. TKR would have been glad to see the back of Hope as he is the leading run scorer in the tournament with 409 runs at an average of over 50.
At the innings break it was an even contest with Amazon Warriors 69/2 after ten overs.
Ayub and Khan then increased the scoring rate, hitting 19 runs off the next two overs, but TKR responded with two quick wickets. Ayub was bowled by Salamkheil for 49 off 39 deliveries (four fours, one six) with a googly that spun a lot.
Dwayne Bravo, who only played in TKR’s first four matches of the season, showed that he is still an athletic fielder at 39 years old. Guyana’s Shimron Hetmyer attempted a quick single to get off the mark, but Bravo fielded the ball at mid-off and with an underarm throw found him just short of the crease as Amazon Warriors were now reduced to 91/4 in the 14th over.
Hinds was rewarded for a disciplined bowling effort as Khan edged to wicket-keeper Nicholas Pooran for 36 off 27 balls. Dwaine Pretorius got innovative flicking an Ali Khan delivery for four to third man, but he pushed his luck and trying the same shot was bowled for 15.
With balls running out, Romario Shepherd attacked Hinds pulling a full toss for six and the next ball chased at a wide delivery and added four more to the total. Hinds had the last laugh as Shepherd attempting another attacking shot found the edge and was caught by Pooran for 16.
Gudakesh Motie struck two sixes and one four in the final over as Khan conceded 18 runs pushing Amazon Warriors to 166/7.
Salamkheil (2/28) and Hinds (2/32) were the best bowlers for TKR.
Walton and Mark Deyal got TKR off to a promising start putting on 41 for the first wicket. Walton, replacing the injured Martin Guptill, struck fast bowler Shamar Joseph for three fours in the fourth over as TKR raced to 41 without loss after four overs.
Amazon Warriors captain and leg spinner Imran Tahir grabbed a wicket off his first ball, trapping Deyal leg before for 15. Tahir blocked the view of umpire Nigel Duguid and he could not make a decision, but Amazon Warriors reviewed it and Deyal was given out.
Pooran settled down quickly, hitting Tahir for back-to-back sixes, the first over cover and the second was swept over the square leg boundary.
Tahir gave Walton a second life as he put down a simple catch fielding at mid-wicket off the bowling off Joseph – a drop that would prove costly.
TKR got to 66/1 after seven overs, but Amazon Warriors only allowed 14 runs in the next three overs with tight bowling.
However, Pooran let loose in the 11th over against Pretorius, hitting a straight four followed by another four to mid-wicket. He could not last the over however, as he was well caught by Ayub running in from long off. He scored 33 off 24 balls.
Walton would shift gears with a straight six off Tahir, then showed exquisite timing cutting a delivery for four. Captain Kieron Pollard struck back-to-back boundaries off left-arm spinner Motie to bring the equation further in TKR’s favour.
Walton, who got to his 50, lashed Motie for two sixes and a four in the 17th as TKR were cruising. TKR only needed 13 runs off the last 18 balls when Pollard got an inside edge off Pretorius and was dismissed for 23 off 15.
Walton, who struck six fours and four sixes, and Andre Russell wrapped the victory.
Guyana will face Jamaica Tallawahs on Friday in qualifier two, to see who will face TKR in Sunday’s final.
Summarised Scores: GUYANA AMAZON WARRIORS 166/7 (20 overs) (Saim Ayub 49, Azam Khan 36; Waqar Salamkheil 2/28, Terrance Hinds 2/32) vs TKR 167/3 (18.1 overs) (Chadwick Walton 80 not out, Nicholas Pooran 33, Kieron Pollard 23; Dwaine Pretorious 2/36). TKR won by seven wickets.