Rain has the final say
By Sean Devers
The picturesque Warner Park in the 104 sq Mile Island of St Kitts has a capacity of 8,000 on an Island which has a population of 51,000 and yesterday, the venue was ram-packed as the CPL T20 tournament climaxed with a riveting night of entertainment although rain spoiled the party for the Guyanese supporters.
In a truncated Final, Barbados Tridents beat last year’s runners-up Guyana Amazon Warriors by eight runs on the Duckworth/ Lewis system to capture their first CPL title and book a trip to next month’s Champions League in India and break the hearts of thousands of Warriors fans who have now seen their team choke at the final hurdle for the second year in a row.
The two teams had contrasting paths to the final. Amazon Warriors battling through the playoffs and Tridents booking a direct spot. Amazon Warriors finished second on 12 points with a 6-3 record that was shared by the top four finishers.
Tridents, however, topped the standings due to their superior net run rate but this accounted for little as they faced off with each other last evening in an atmosphere that was simply fantastic.
The Tridents had never beaten the Warriors in their previous two meetings in the two-year history of the CPL and yesterday in sunny conditions in the day/night finale under lights, the Warriors won the toss and asked the Tridents to bat on good track for batting at one of smallest International cricket grounds in the world.
An 88-run third wicket stand between Dwayne Smith, who made 55 from 47 balls and Shoaib Malik, who finished unbeaten on 55 from 42 balls lifted the Tridents to 152-6 with left-arm pacer Krishmar Santokie (3-19) and spin wizard Sunil Narine (2-20) picking up crucial wickets for the Warriors, who responded with 107-4 off 15.5 overs despite 28 from Mohammad Hafeez and 20 from the leading run scorer Lendl Simmons. But in the end they batted too slowly and left too much for too late.
The Tridents began with four leg byes off the first ball, and already the dancing girls were on their feet and their hips swinging as much as Santokie’s deliveries. But soon it was the Guyana flags in the stands that were being waved wildly when Santokie removed Williams Perkins for a duck at 5-1 in the first over.
Left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul shared the new ball with Santokie and bowled a tight first over as Smith, the only batsman with two tons in a CPL season, looked to capitalize on the short boundaries with some impetuous early shots which he failed to get hold of.
Jason Holder sent in as ‘Pinch hitter’ in the power-play overs, was bowled with a perfect Santokie ‘yorker’ as the Tridents were off to horrendous start at 8-2 in the third over.
The dangerous Smith dumped Permaul for six before Ronsford Beaton pitched one short and disappeared for consecutives sixes off the flaying bat off Smith, who then clipped the Essequibo pacer elegantly for four in an over which cost 17.
Malik pulled Permaul for four before dancing down the track to hit the Berbician for a six and finished off the over with majestic four.
Smith survived a close LBW shout off Narine, who confused the batsmen with his magical off-spin. Smith befuddled by a couple of balls that went the other way, responded by lofting the number one ranked t20 spinner, for a colossal six and a battle seemed well and truly on.
Rain stopped play after seven overs as the Tridents galloped to 56-2 but the biggest party in sport continued in the stands even as the fans in the grass mounds and even the TV Cameramen gyrated to pulsating music under umbrellas that produced a kaleidoscope of colour beyond the boundaries.
The Warriors, who lost in last over to Jamaica Tallawahs in the inaugural Final, bounced back from heartbreaking defeats after Darren Bravo and Andre Russell both needed six to win from the last balls and successfully got them.
When play resumed, they tried to contain Smith, who made 104 against Guyana in Barbados in a losing cause. The West Indies batman caressed Navin Stuart sweetly to the cover boundary as his partnership with Pakistani Malik flourished.
After 10 overs, the Warriors had restricted the run-rate significantly but Malik and Smith stroked Stuart for exquisite boundaries in the same over to release the pressure.
The 31-year-old Smith, hunting his fourth t20 century, was kept on a tight rein by Narine who induced Smith to hole out to Martin Guptil at long-on for 55 decorated with six fours and three sixes. Narine continued to spin his web and had Skipper Kieron Pollard caught and bowled, pushing tamely forward for a golden duck as the Tridents lost their two most dangerous batmen for no run to slip to 96-4 in a game changing over.
Raymon Reifer (5) was bowled at 111-5 by Santokie, who bowled gun-barrel straight and cleverly utilized his slower balls, while Narine befuddled everybody with his both way turn to finish another mesmerizing t20 performance.
Malik lifted Santokie for six and hit him for four in the penultimate over to post his 50 and the job of bowling the last over was again handed to 21-year-old Beaton, who started with a waist high full toss which was called ‘no ball’ and Jeevan Mendis disdainfully pulled it for six as the final over cost 16 runs.
When Guyana began their reply they began sedately before Martin Guptil (7) broke the shackles with a thunderous straight drive but he had his stumps scattered by Kyle Mayers at 12-1 next ball.
Simmons, the only batsman with over 400 runs, flicked the tournament’s leading wicket-taker Ravi Rampaul for a glorious four and hooked Holder for six but he had lost Guptil with whom he shared three century stands including a CPL record stand of 154 against St Lucia Zouks, and a lot of work was still left be done.
A pull by Simmons off leg-spinner Mendis took him past Chris Gayle’s record sixes but he soon hit a full toss from Ryad Emrit to cover for 20 to silence the Warriors fans and leave them in a precarious position on 49-2 in the ninth over.
Hafeez and Jimmy Neesham were strangled by on target bowling before Neesham broke free with an audacious straight six off Pollard who was pulled into stands by Hafeez (28) who next top-edged a pull off Holder as the Warriors slipped to 74-3. Two runs later things got progressively worse when Neesham (17) gloved a slower ball from Holder to be caught behind.
Chris Barnwell (14*) played a nice little cameo and along with his Captain kept hope alive as Ramdin (17*) brought up the 100 with six off Reifer before another shower sent the players off the field for the final time with the score on 107-4 off 15.5 overs and Warriors eight runs behind on the Duckworth/Lewis system.
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