Defending champions Trinbago Knight Riders will face the Guyana Amazon Warriors this evening at 6 pm in their den, the Providence Stadium looking for a win to advance to the final of the tournament.
TKR finished atop the six-team standings with seven wins from 10 matches, followed by Guyana Amazon Warriors which clocked six wins from their 10 matches. The winner in this evening's clash will go straight to the final of the tournament, while the loser will play the winner of the other qualifier which is between Jamaica Tallawahs and St. Kitts/Nevis Patriots which is carded for tomorrow at the same Providence Stadium.
TKR lost the precursor to this match on Sunday night, as the Warriors stormed to a six-wicket win in front of a packed house in Guyana. Today the same fans are expected to show to support as their team looks for a second straight win over the champs. Both teams will be hoping to seal their final spot but even if they don't there is a second chance.
On Sunday, emerging star Shimron Hetmyer and Sherfane Rutherford blasted Guyana Amazon Warriors into second place with an astonishing assault on the TKR bowlers.
The Warriors’ bowlers had played their part to restrict the Knight Riders powerful batting line-up to just 154/7, and that left Guyana with two different targets. As well as the usual 20-over target for the win, there was a second equation in play: victory inside 15.3 overs would be enough to leapfrog Jamaica Tallawahs on net run-rate and take the second spot.
That, of course, brought with it a place in Playoff One and a direct route to the Final with a second chance in the Semi-final should they lose.
At 67/2 from nine overs on the back of Cameron Delport’s 37 from 27, the Warriors looked well placed for the win but behind the rate required to take the second spot.
Then Hetmyer went berserk. Sixteen runs in three balls from Kevon Cooper in the 10th over propelled the score to 86/2 at halfway. When Jason Mohammed fell to Nikita Miller looking for another six, Sherfane Rutherford came in and showed how it was done.
He smashed his first two balls over mid-wicket for six but even better was to come as the next ball was reverse-swept high into the stands for a third successive Hero Maximum.
By now it was abundantly clear the Warriors were going all out for second place. There was to be no let-up. Hetmyer continued the onslaught in the next over, passing 50 in just 24 balls as he took Anderson Phillip for another pair of huge sixes.
Then it was back to Rutherford, with the second of three sixes he smashed off Dwayne Bravo in over 13 bringing up the 50 partnership in a mere 15 balls.
Although Hetmyer couldn’t quite see his team over the line, bowled by the impressive leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed, Chadwick Walton promptly smashed his first ball for six to bring the scores level and allow Rutherford the luxury of needing just a single to finish things rather than adding to his six sixes. He still hit four to end on a whirlwind 45 not out from 13 balls.
The Knight Riders were pegged back early with three key wickets falling in the Power Play. Run machine Colin Munro suffered a rare failure, bottom-edging Sohail Tanvir through to Luke Ronchi and departing for just 6 after replays confirmed the catch was clean.
Colin Ingram’s introduction to the side didn’t go to plan when he picked out deep mid-wicket off Chris Green for just 4, while Brendon McCullum was run out by a brilliant direct hit from Delport at point to reduce the Knight Riders to 23/3.
Denesh Ramdin has been in fine form since moving up the order and continued that despite slipping one place to four to accommodate Ingram. The Knight Riders keeper made 32 and shared a 54-run partnership with Darren Bravo to steady the ship before flicking Rayad Emrit all the way to Devendra Bishoo at deep square-leg.