Guyana Amazon Warriors (194-2) beat St. Lucia Zouks (189-7) by 8 wickets with 6 balls remaining
The Guyana Amazon Warriors defeated the St. Lucia Zouks in a game that featured the two highest opening stands in the history of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League. First, Andre Fletcher and Johnson Charles set a new record in the first innings of the match, only to see that mark broken by Lendl Simmons and Martin Guptill in the second dig.
Bowlers struggled to find any control as the runs flowed freely from the bat throughout, but Simmons was the star of the show as he made 97 off 60 balls before he was run out agonisingly close to his century. When he departed, he had done enough for his side to secure victory in the highest chase in the history of the CPL but the Zouks just didn’t have quite enough to defend in a game that thrilled the noisy St. Kitts crowd.
The thing that has been missing most from the Zouks so far in the tournament is a good start. Early wickets in the Powerplay have blighted Darren Sammy and his side. The best opening stand before today was the 41 that Johnson Charles put together with Henry Davids in their very first match. Since then, they have come nowhere close to the 139 run stand they achieved today.
There could have been a wicket for the Amazon Warriors in the fourth over when a colossal mix up between Andre Fletcher and Charles saw both batsmen at the strikers end. The throw went to the wrong end and the chance was missed. The bowling options for the Warriors have been very settled this tournament, and it spoke volumes of how well the Zouks were going that Lendl Simmons came into the attack for just the second time in the tournament. Even Sunil Narine couldn’t apply the brakes during the Powerplay as his first over went for nine runs.
At the halfway stage of their innings, the Zouks were still yet to lose a wicket and had set a platform to go on to make something very impressive. There could have been yet another run out chance when Johnson set off for a run that wasn’t there. Krishmar Santokie couldn’t get the ball in over the stumps and the opportunity was lost.
Both batsmen reached higher scores than any Zouks batsman has scored this season. Thoughts would have turned to a score in excess of 200, but it would be down to the middle order to get them there when Charles was well caught on the boundary by Martin Guptill for 62 off 46 balls.
The crowd would have hoped to see Kevin Pietersen, but in a legitimate move by the Zouks they sent in Sohail Tanvir; he is the man with the second highest strike rate in this year’s event and would be well placed to go hard from ball one. The spectators did not have to wait long for Pietersen, as Fletcher went the same way as Charles, well caught in the deep.
The departure of the two openers saw a loss of momentum. Tanvir hit his first ball for six, but could not repeat the trick off the next delivery to see him caught out. That brought together Darren Sammy and Pietersen and both were in six hitting form from the very get go. Pietersen nearly made it two in two but for an outstanding one handed catch from Guptill that cost him his wicket.
The Zouks did not quite make it to 200, but thanks to some big blows from skipper Sammy, they still went on to record their highest ever total.
For the second time in the match, there was an excellent opening stand as Guptill and Simmons set about making the Zouks total look ordinary. Simmons was in scintillating form, but he could have gone twice before he reached fifty. He was dropped on nought by Liam Sebastian and on 45 by Shillingford, although neither was a simple chance.
The bowler that struggled most for control was Tino Best, as his second over went for 26 runs as Simmons put him to the sword to get the run rate under control. He did not look back as he continued to find the boundary with ease. He was well supported by Guptill, the New Zealander happy to just give the strike to his fellow opener.
Best came back into the attack and nearly secured revenge against Simmons. A top edge was nearly taken, but the wind took it out of the gloved hands of Fletcher. While Simmons had his luck in this innings, he interspersed those moments of good fortune with shots of power and precision. He lost Guptill with work still to be done, but he did not slow down as he destroyed a Mervin Mathew over, scoring three consecutive sixes.
He could not quite make it to his hundred, but it was a match winning performance of the highest order from the Amazon Warriors opener.