On the back of three wins in their final three group games, table-toppers Guyana Amazon Warriors romped into the final of the inaugural Caribbean Premier League, brushing Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel aside with a seven-wicket victory in Port-of-Spain.
Let down badly by their much-vaunted batting line-up after being given first use of the pitch by Warriors captain Ramnaresh Sarwan, T&T were unable to capitalise on an excellent run at the end of the group stage that saw them win their last three games. The Warriors, the tournament’s outstanding side thus far, were ruthlessly efficient, with all five of their bowlers taking wickets at a miserly rate as they skittled the Red Steel for 103.
The additions of Sri Lankans Tillakaratne Dilshan and Lasith Malinga to the Warriors line-up provided the tournament favourites with a boost, and Sarwan sprung a surprise by opening the bowling with Dilshan’s off breaks. In partnership with Krishmar Santokie, the tournament’s leading wicket-taker, Dilshan got the Warriors off to a flyer by taking the wicket of the dangerous Irishman Kevin O’Brien in the second over.
The following over, Santokie had key man Mahela Jayawardene caught by Sarwan at cover to assert the Warriors’ early dominance. These early in-roads led Sarwan to turn to his strike bowlers Lasith Malinga and Sunil Narine, whose tight lines suffocated T&T, with Ross Taylor falling to Veerasammy Permaul shortly afterwards, precipitating a collapse that saw T&T fall from 25-2 to 32-5. Dilshan was once again the chief tormentor, dismissing Darren Bravo and running out Adrian Barath.
At 56-6 in the 13th over, the Red Steel required a key 45-run seventh-wicket partnership from skipper Dwayne Bravo and Kevon Cooper to haul them somewhere near a respectable total.
When Cooper fell in the 18th over to leave them 101-7, the Red Steel suffered another collapse, eventually finding themselves all out for 103 halfway through the final over. They had lost their last four wickets for two runs in two overs. Malinga, bowling the final over, dismissed Bravo and Fidel Edwards with successive deliveries to finish the Red Steel off.
The Warriors made easy work of the paltry target, despite losing Lendl Simmons early. Dilshan starred with the bat as well as the ball (he ended with figures of 2-14), anchoring the innings with a 29-ball 39, including three fours and a six.
Red Steel eventually managed to dismiss Dilshan and William Perkins but to no avail, as the Warriors waltzed home with 22 balls to spare, with Sarwan and James Franklin 18 and 16 not out, respectively.
The Warriors’ opponents in Saturday’s final will be decided in Port-of-Spain tonight as the Chris Gayle-inspired Jamaica Tallawahs take on Kieron Pollard’s Barbados Tridents. Like the Warriors, Jamaica have beefed up their side for the knock-out stage with the addition of Sri Lanka star Kumar Sangakkara. The Tridents will be looking to reverse a downturn in fortune that has seen them lose their last three games, slipping from the top of the table to a third-placed finish.
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