Skipper Shoaib Malik and Brandon Khan blasted half-centuries as the Guyana Amazon Warriors stamped their authority in this year’s Hero Caribbean Premier League with a crushing 81-run victory over the Jamaica Tallawahs at Sabina Park in Kingston on Wednesday night.
Malik scored an unbeaten 67 while King hit 59 at the top of the order, as the Warriors notched 218-6, before spinners Chris Green (1/30) and Imran Tahir (2/21) stifled the batsmen and ripped out the heart of the top order in an all-round effort which showed just how well tuned the Warriors outfit are this season.
The victory pushed the Warriors to sole leadership of the six-team table with a maximum 10 points from five games, two more than second-placed Trinbago Knight Riders and four better than third-placed St Kitts Nevis Patriots. The Barbados Tridents, St Lucia Zouks and Tallawahs are in the bottom half of the table with two points each, but the Tallawahs have played six matches and are now in real danger of not making the playoffs.
Judging from some of the body language during the embarrassing spanking, some of the Tallawahs players may have already thrown in the towel on this tournament and it may very well be a case of rebuilding for next season in their remaining four matches.
Earlier, the Warriors’ foundation was set by King. After losing opening partner Chandrapaul Hemraj for a golden duck, caught by Javelle Glen off the bowling of medium-pacer Jade Dernbach, with the score on just five, King took the match by the scruff of the neck.
He shared in two key partnerships of 69 with Shimron Hetmeyer, who blazed a 25-ball 44 with six fours and two maximums, and 43 with Malik as the Warriors got to 117-3 inside 13 overs.
King compiled four fours and six sixes before he went for one big shot too many off Ramaal Lewis and holed out to Chadwick Walton at deep mid-wicket.
Malik was on just 12 off 11 balls at this juncture but then changed gears and in critical stands of 53 with Nicholas Pooran (20) and 20 with Shane Rutherford (15), milked 101 runs off the last seven overs, starting with the 14th where he belted pacer Oshane Thomas for two fours and two maximums, while compiling his half-century milestone.
Malik’s innings included six fours and three sixes and more importantly, gave the Warriors a formidable target to defend.
In their turn at the crease, Tallawahs never looked comfortable against the early spin tactic used by skipper Malik, who employed South African off-break specialist Green and his leg-spinning compatriot Imran Tahir first up.
That proved a perfect decision as Gayle, after despatching Tahir’s first-ball loosener over the boundary, tried for a slog sweep right after and only spooned the ball into the air where Chandrapaul Hemraj took a comfortable catch at short third man, sending Tahir running off for his trademark open-armed airplane celebrations.
The loss of their talisman for seven runs in just the second over and with just 12 runs on the board silenced the Tallawahs fans. Chadwick Walton brought a few smiles by belting Qais Ahmad, brought on for his first over, for four fours in the next over. But he too succumbed to Tahir a few balls later, as he left his crease, ended up being cramped for room and hit a full toss straight into Ahmad’s lap at extra cover. He was out for 15 runs as Tallawahs slumped to 34-2.
Javelle Glen (4) and George Worker (0) did not last very long in support of opener Glenn Phillips as the home side slumped further to 51 for four. But when Worker was out to Ahmad, Andre Russell strode to the crease for his first match since being hit on the helmet by St Lucia Zouks’ Hardus Viljoen on September 13.
He quickly went to work, belting the ball all over the park in amassing a quickfire 40 off just 19 balls laced with three fours and three sixes.
But medium-pacer Dwayne Smith got the big breakthrough in the 13th over as Malik sought to stop the run leakage. With his very first ball, Smith produced a delivery lined on off-stump and Russell tried to cut it over cover only to find Malik on the edge of the inner circle as the Tallawahs now stuttered to 111-5.
Any hope of a fight-back was dashed in the next over by all-rounder Keemo Paul, who struck a triple blow with the wickets of Phillips (40), Dwayne Smith (6) and Ramaal Lewis (1), two behind the wicket and one at point, as the Tallawahs’ were down for the count at 119-8.
GUYANA AMAZON WARRIORS 218-6 (20) (Shoaib Malik 67*, Brandon King 59, Shimron Hetmyer 44, Andre Russell 2/35, Jade Dernbach 2/50) v JAMAICA TALLAWAHS 137 all out (17.3) (Glenn Phillips 40, Andre Russell 40, Keemo Paul 3/34, Imran Tahir 2/21)
Result: WARRIORS WON BY 81 RUNS
Man-of-the-Match: IMRAN TAHIR (GAW)