By Sean Devers
Watched by a colourful, flag waving capacity crowd under a clear night sky, ExxonMobil Guyana Amazon Warriors began their 2018 campaign auspiciously when led by an explosive unbeaten 79 from Shimron Hetymer they hammered St Kitts & Nevis Patriots by six wickets last night at Providence in match 2 of the sixth edition of the Hero CPL T20 tournament.
A belligerent 65-ball 86 with seven fours and five sixes from Skipper Christopher Gayle was the lone innings of significance for the Patriots who were limited to 146-5 as no other player passed 15.
Twenty-year-old Kemo Paul (2-16) was the most successful bowler for the Warriors who reached 148-4 in 16.3 overs on the back of an unfinished 62-run fifth wicket stand between Hetymer (79 from 45 balls with nine four and four sixes) and Chris Green who was not out on 25 from 23 ball on his CPL debut.
Eighteen year-old Sandeep Lamichhane had 2-12 and Sheldon Cottrell 2-21 had the most wickets for the Patriots. When Warriors began their hunt Chadwick Walton (9) was removed in the first over by Lamichhane at 9-1 before Cottrell bowled Luke Ronchi (0) without addition to the score.
Skipper Shoaib Malik edged Cottrell to the Keeper at 24-3 after pounding the Jamaican for three fours and his demise started the Shimron Hetymer show. The left-handed Guyanese, unfortunately not selected for the three-match T20 series against Bangladesh, was missed-stumped by Devon Thomas to a googly from Lamichhane before he had scored and made the Patriots pay dearly for the error.
Hetymer tore into Cooper; hitting him for a four and two sixes off three balls before smashing Joseph for three fours and a six in the fifth over and blasting Lamichhane for another blistering boundary and along with the out of form Jason Mohammed (16) took the score to 86 before Lamichhane got rid of Mohammed in the 10th over.
Hetymer raced to his first CPL fifty from just 29 balls to follow-up his 52 and 125 in the ODIs against Bangladesh in his last two innings at Providence and the sell-out roared their approval.
With the Tassa drums rolling, the cheer leaders dancing to pulsating music from the sound system and the fans in the stands waving Warriors and Guyana flags madly in the stands, the atmosphere was absolutely fantastic.
Green played a wonderful supporting role as his stand with the on-fire Hetymer flourished under the flood lights as Green smashed Carlos Braithwaite back past his ankles for four.
But it was the 21-year-old Berbice batter from the Young Warriors club in Canjie, who had the fans on their feet. The Windies batsman, clobbered Cutting for two fours and a mighty six in the 16th over and ended the contest with a pugnacious boundary with 21 balls to spare.
Earlier, the contest began 15 minutes late because a set of the floodlights came on after the others and the Warriors, who left Bishoo, Permaul, Primus and Singh out, invited the Patriots to bat on a slow track.
Gayle flicked the first ball of the match from Sohail Tanvir for four. Green, who opened the bowling, conceded just a single to Gayle after the first delivery went for four leg byes.
While the 38-year-old Gayle seemed intent on running quick singles, Evin Lewis looked out of sorts and was soon bowled for one with a perfect arm-ball from Green at 15-1 to bring Australian Tom Copper to join his Skipper.
Gayle drove Tanveer powerfully past mid-off for his second boundary and was already looking ominous. Leg-spinner Imran Tahir was introduced and at the end of the power-play six overs, the patriots were 32-1 while Paul greeted Gayle with a bouncer with his first ball.
Gayle dumped Tahir over on for six before Copper, with a reversed swept boundary, and Gayle’s consecutive sixes spoiled Green’s spell as he conceded 19 in his last over. Copper was dropped on 12 by Rutherford at long-on off Rayed Emrit before Copper (15) played around an inswinger from Paul and was trapped LBW at 76-2 in 11.1 after the first 10 overs produced 71 runs.
Ben Cutting joined Gayle who reached his 71stT20 fifty before edging Emrit for a fortuitous boundary to move to 54 A six from Gayle off Tahir took the score to 97-2 after 15 overs before sixes from both Cutting and Gayle in the next over off Emrit saw the 100 posted in the 16th over which cost 13 runs.
Cutting clobbered Taveer for six before the 33-year-old Pakistani was bowled off the next ball to leave the score on 119-3 while Gayle flicked Emrit disdainfully and hit him down the ground for boundaries to gallop to 85.
Rutherford took a stupendous catch by running in from deep cover and diving full length forward off Tahir with Gayle 14 short off his 22nd T20 ton to leave the Patriots on 134-4 in the penultimate over before another ‘blinder’ from Rutherford in the last over accounted for Anton Devcich (9) to give Paul his second scalp, restricting the Patriots to under 150.
The Warriors next play St Lucian Stars tomorrow from 16:00hrs.
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