Zouks annihilate Guyana Amazon Warriors to reach first CPL final
Rahkeem Cornwall (second right) of St Lucia Zouks celebrates with his teammates the dismissal of Guyana Amazon Warriors' Imran Tahir during the second semi-final of the Hero Caribbean Premier League, at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba, Trinidad and Tobago, on Tuesday, September 8, 2020. (Photo by Randy Brooks - CPL T20/CPL T20 via Getty Images).
St Lucia Zouks skittled perennial finalists Guyana Amazon Warriors for the second lowest team total in Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) history and blazed to victory in just 27 balls to complete one of the most dominant performances in T20 history.
In doing so they booked their place against the Trinbago Knight Riders in Thursday’s final, the first in the St Lucia franchise’s history.
Sent in to bat at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba, Trinidad and Tobago, the Amazon Warriors were blown away for 55 in 13.4 overs and the Zouks replied with 56 without loss off just 4.3 overs.
Scott Kuggeleijn, Roston Chase, Zahir Khan and Mark Deyal ended with two wickets apiece for St Lucia Zouks.
The Amazon Warriors received an immediate setback at the start of their innings and lost two wickets after four balls without a run on the board. Brandon King toe-ended to wicket keeper Andre Fletcher and Shimron Hetmyer inexplicably left his first ball to let it crash into off-stump.
Nicholas Pooran denied Kuggeleijn a hat-trick, but only a single and a wide followed, and Mohammad Nabi followed up with a maiden to leave the Amazon Warriors two wickets down for two runs after two overs.
Pooran immediately counter-attacked, slashing Kuggeleijn over the slips then dismissively driving him down the ground for back-to-back fours, but he fell for 11 trying to loft Nabi down the ground, thanks to a wonderful catch by Deyal diving forward from long-off.
Chandrapaul Hemraj and Ross Taylor cautiously played out the rest of the powerplay, at which point the Amazon Warriors were 21 for three.
Taylor, so often the rock around, which recoveries are built, fell LBW for three off 12 balls off the bowling of Chase.
Deyal almost pulled off another amazing catch at long-off as Hemraj drove Zahir Khan aerially, but it just fell short, and a fifth straight over with only three runs scored, leaving the Amazon Warriors 27 for four off eight overs.
The extent to which the tension was pressing on the Amazon Warriors was obvious. Hemraj got a friendly full toss from Chase but only pushed it for two and then Keemo Paul had a swipe down the throat of Kesrick Williams at deep square leg and was caught for two.
Hemraj finally hit the innings’ first six off the 56th ball, slamming Zahir over deep midwicket, but at halfway the Amazon Warriors had crawled to 42 for five.
Amazon Warriors captain Chris Green smashed Javelle Glenn’s first ball for a six, and seemed to have done so off his second ball but Nabi pulled off a brilliant balancing catch at the boundary’s edge to dismiss the batsman for 11.
With spin so dominant, captain Darren Sammy went to Deyal who answered the call emphatically with two wickets in two balls - Hemraj (25) inside-edged onto his stumps via his pad, and Romario Shepherd pushed his first ball to give a simple catch to the bowler. Again there was no hat-trick, but the Amazon Warriors innings was not long for this world.
Fletcher showed sharp glovework to stump Kevin Sinclair for one off Zahir, and the Amazon Warriors’ ignominious innings ended next ball as Rakheem Cornwall plunged forward to take a sharp slip catch off Imran Tahir.
All six Zouks bowlers had taken a wicket, and the innings had lasted just 13.4 overs.
Cornwall showed that a low target wasn’t going to temper his belligerent instincts, launching two sixes in Green’s first over, whipping Tahir for four through short fine leg and nearly breaking the stumps at the non-striker’s end with a straight drive. Deyal hit fours off each of his first two deliveries, and the Zouks were almost halfway to their target after two overs.
Naveen-ul-Haq was visibly furious with how the evening had gone for his team, bowling a bouncer that sailed even over the towering Cornwall for five wides. Cornwall continued his merry mayhem by walloping Naveen through long-on for four, and Deyal picked up a six for himself with a gleeful mow over midwicket.
Cornwall blasted Tahir over long-on for his third six, Deyal closed the fourth over with his third four, and captain Green went down with his ship by bringing himself on for the fifth with just three runs to win.
The Zouks dugout were loudly chanting for Cornwall to finish the game in style, and although a toe-end through third man wasn’t quite what they had in mind, by winning in just 4.3 overs they had completed the fastest chase in the history of T20 franchise cricket anywhere in the world, and the whole game was done in just 17.1 overs. If the Zouks can take anything like this energy into Thursday’s final, they might just challenge the so far invulnerable Knight Riders.
Guyana Amazon Warriors 55 all out in 13.4 overs (Hemraj 25; Deyal 2/2, Zahir 2/12, Kuggeleijn 2/12, Chase 2/15, Nabi 1/6, Glenn 1/8)
St Lucia Zouks 56/0 in 4.3 overs (Cornwall 32*, Deyal 19*) beat
Thursday, September 10 - Final: Trinbago Knight Riders v St Lucia Zouks (10:00 am), Brian Lara Cricket Academy