By Sean Devers
In a game that began in glorious sunshine and concluded under floodlights, the ExxonMobil Guyana Amazon Warriors took an early lead in the sixth edition of the Hero CPL T20 cricket tournament by beating St Lucia Stars by three runs to register their second win in as many matches and condemn the visitors to their 13thconsecutive loss.
The last time these two teams met at Providence in August last year, the Warriors destroyed the opposition by seven wickets after strolling to 101-3 with 32 balls to spare replying to 100-7.
With 16 to win last night off the final over, 20-year-old Kemo Paul from the Island of Wakenaam in the Essequibo River was handed the ball and with over 15,000 excited fans chanting his name, began his run-up with nervous sweat running down his face.
As his yorker crashed into the stumps of Kavem Hodge, the screams from the crowd could be heard all the way in Castries St Lucia.
But when Ahmad reverse scooped the Guyanese pacer over third man for six, the silence in the ground was deafening. The next three balls only produced five runs, leaving five to win and four to take the game into super-over.
Paul held his nerves and the Stars could only get a single as the crowd erupted in unadulterated joy.
Chadwick Walton with 31 from 24 with four fours and a six and Luke Ronchi who made a 41-ball 42 with two fours and a six added 54 for the first wicket but only Shimron Hetymer with 21 from 19 balls with three boundaries and Jason Mohammed with 20 from 15 balls with a six and a four reached 20 as the Warriors reached 141-4 on a slow and low track and a fast outfield.
Seventeen year-old Afghanistan leg-spinner Qais Ahmad befuddled the top order to finish with 3-15 from four overs.
Stars, despite an 83-run stand between Skipper Kieron Pollard who hit two fours and a six in his 25-ball 32 and his Trini colleague Lendl Simmons, who cleared the boundary five times in the 39-ball 45 fell three short. Rayed Emrit (3-26) and Imran Tahir (2-23) were the best Warriors’ bowlers.
When St Lucia Stars began their replyAndre Fletcher lifted off-spinner Chris Green over mid-off four but left-arm pacer Sohail Tanvir produced a frugal opening spell; beating David Warner’s edge a few times.
The left-handed Australian tucked Tanvir for four and at the end of the six power-play overs the Stars were 28-0.
Paul bowled short and Pollard savagely pulled him for four as the 50 was posted in 10 overs.
Tahir struck at 29-1 in the seventh over when Warner (11) missed a sweep and was LBW off his glove and when the 39-year-old removed Fletcher (14) in the same over a run later, the dancing fans, who produced a Kaleidoscope of colour, were having a rollicking time in the jam packed stands.
Simmons clobbered Tahir for two sixes in the 13th over before dumping Green into the Red stand but when the Trinidadian was on 38 he hit Tanvir to deep cover where Sherfane Rutherford dropped a sitter, while Pollard smashed Emrit to long-off and the ball went right through Chadwick Walton for four.
Simmons was caught behind off Emrit who also had Pollard and Cornwall in successive deliveries in the penultimate over. His hat-trick ball was hit for six by Mitchell McClenaghan to leave 16 to get from the final over and the rest is now history.
Earlier, the Stars, without a win since 2016, asked the Warriors to bat and Walton got going with a sweetly timed back punch past cover for four off the fourth ball from Muhammad Sami before smashing McClenaghan for a four and scooping over the ropes at fine-leg.
Ronchi belted McClenaghan for four and hammered Hodge for another boundary as the 50 came up in 5.4 overs.
Walton (24) ran past the first ball bowled by Ahmad at 54-1 in 7.1 overs to bring the dangerous Hetymer to the crease.
And the Berbician began by pulling Ahmad to the mid-wicket boundary before a couple of pugnacious pulls off Pollard from consecutive deliveries reached the ropeslike bullets and the left hander had picked-up where he had left off on Thursday at the Patriots.
Ronchi also played some delightful shots and after 10 overs the Warriors were 73-1 and another colourful capacity crowd was enjoying shot-filled partnership.
Ronchi effortlessly deposited Kesrick Williams for a nonchalant six before Hetymer (21) edged a cut to keeper to give Ahmad his second wicket to leave the score 86-2 in 11.5 overs.
A perfect googlie from Ahmad breached the defence of Skipper Shoaib Malik (8) and the Warriors had slipped to 98-3 before the 100 was posted in the 14th over.
Mohammed joined the well-entrenched Ronchi who was soon LBW to off-spinner Mark Chapman for 42 with the Warriors on 113-4.
Mohammed swept Chapman for four, while 19-year-old Sherfane Rutherford dumped Rakeem Cornwall on the roof of the VIP stand.
When Mohammed blasted Williams for a massive six, the raucous, flag-waving crowd, which was silenced by the fall of two quick wickets, were back in full swing and jumping in the stands.
The unfinished fifth wicket 28 stand between Mohammed who made 20 from 15 balls with a six and a four and Rutherford with 16 from 15 balls, rallied the Warriors to a below par score.
Scores: AMAZON WARRIORS 141 for four off 20 overs (Luke Ronchi 42, Chadwick Walton 31, Shimron Hetmyer 21; Qais Ahmad 3-15).
STARS 138 for seven off 20 overs (Lendl Simmons 45, Kieron Pollard 32; Rayad Emrit 3-26, Imran Tahir 2-23).
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