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Match 24 – St Lucia Zouks v Guyana Amazon Warriors

Patrick Noone analyses how Naveen-ul-Haq continued his fine run of form as the Amazon Warriors ran out comfortable winners against the Zouks

Guyana Amazon Warriors know all too well about peaking at the wrong time in tournament cricket. In last year’s CPL, they won all ten of their group matches as well as the semi-final, only to lose the final and end the season empty handed.

This time around, they haven’t had anything like that same level of dominance across a stuttering campaign, but there have been signs in their last three matches that the Amazon Warriors are building their season to a nice crescendo that could see them become real contenders at the sharp end of the tournament.

So often it is the spinners that cause the damage for the Amazon Warriors; few teams in the world are as defined by their spin bowlers as the team from Providence, but tonight it was the seamers who dealt the killer blows in restricting St Lucia Zouks to 109-7 from their 20 overs.

Or rather, it was Romario Shepherd, Naveen-ul-Haq and Keemo Paul who shared five of the seven wickets – the highest percentage of seam wickets the Amazon Warriors have taken in a match this season – while the spinners were characteristically economical at the other end.

It was Naveen who was the pick of the bowlers, 24 hours after taking career-best figures against Barbados Tridents. He followed up that performance with another two wickets – including the crucial dismissal of Mohammad Nabi – and an extraordinary catch at extra cover to see the back of Rahkeem Cornwall.

Naveen brought his wicket tally for the season to 11, behind only Scott Kuggeleijn in terms of seamers, and his economy rate of 6.46 is the second best of all seamers to have taken five or more wickets. That combination of threat and control is the holy grail for bowlers in the shorter formats and it’s something that is making Naveen one of the Amazon Warriors’ most important players in this campaign.

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Tonight, Naveen didn’t so much as concede a run until his eighth delivery, by which time he had already picked up the wicket of Leniko Boucher. The Zouks batsmen were trying to target him, attacking 63% of the balls he bowled, the most of any bowler from either side, but were unable to get him away.

One feature of Naveen’s bowling that makes him hard to hit is the length he bowls. He naturally targets just short of a good length and that, coupled with subtle variations in pace, make him tough to pick up. Despite 31% of his deliveries coming in the death overs, Naveen rarely resorts to yorkers, backing his accuracy with shorter lengths to keep batsmen in check.

This match was as encouraging for the Amazon Warriors as it was concerning for the Zouks. They might have got away with it in their last match against the Tridents when they defended 92, but that doesn’t mask the fact that this is now two sub-par batting performances in a row. Their place in the semi-finals is already secure, but they will simply need to be better with the bat if they are to stay competitive consistently.

Meanwhile, the win for the Amazon Warriors sees them qualify for the playoffs with a game to spare and as things stand, they look the side best equipped to challenge Trinbago Knight Riders in the knockouts.

Patrick Noone is a CricViz analyst

@patnoonecricket

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