Patrick Noone analyses how the spinners from both sides shaped the narrative in a remarkable low-scoring thriller
In Guyana Amazon Warriors’ last outing – a three-wicket win over St Kitts and Nevis Patriots – they were indebted to their spin bowling duo, Imran Tahir and Chris Green. For a short time tonight though, they had a taste of their own medicine as Jamaica Tallawahs’ Sandeep Lamichhane and Mujeeb-ur-Rahman turned the first innings on its head and halted what had been an excellent start with the bat for the Amazon Warriors.
When Mujeeb bowled the last over of the Powerplay, Brandon King and Chandrapaul Hemraj had raced to 55-0 from just five overs, enjoying the pace on the ball from Oshane Thomas, Fidel Edwards and Andre Russell. Mujeeb had offered a modicum of sanity with an over that cost seven, earning the right to a second over before the end of the fielding restrictions.
By the time the over was finished, he had dismissed both King and the in-form Shimron Hetmyer for a golden duck and the momentum of the innings began to shift dramatically. Mujeeb was working through all his variations and it was a delivery significantly slower than his stock ball that did for Nicholas Pooran, forcing him to edge behind.
The Amazon Warriors had slipped from 56-0 to 67-4 and Mujeeb’s brilliance laid the platform for Lamichhane to apply the squeeze. The Nepalese leg-spinner bowled his four overs in succession during the middle overs, took 2-8 and recorded a dot ball percentage of 75%, the joint highest by a Jamaica Tallawahs bowler in CPL history.
Between them, the spinners had taken 5-26 from eight overs as the Amazon Warriors were bowled out for 118. A below par total for sure, but anyone who thought the run chase would be a foregone conclusion cannot have been paying attention to how Guyana Amazon Warriors go about their business.
The CPL spin kings were always going to have a response in conditions like this and, sure enough, Chris Green opened with himself and Imran Tahir before opting for spin in each of the Amazon Warriors first six overs. It was the 12th time in CPL history that a team has filled a Powerplay entirely with spin, and the Amazon Warriors are responsible for seven of those occasions.
Green struck with the very first ball of the innings, pinning Chadwick Walton LBW with an arm ball. That was backed up by a maiden from Tahir and, when Green removed Nkrumah Bonner in the next over albeit from a very generous LBW decision, it was game on at 4-2.
Green’s captaincy was smart, and the spin kept coming – Ashmead Nedd picked up a wicket with his very first ball in the CPL and even Chandrapaul Hemraj got in on the act to reduce the Tallawahs to 34-4, the match now decisively in the Amazon Warriors favour.
This was an historically effective game for the spinners. Never in CPL history have spin bowlers collectively averaged less than the 7.50 they did tonight and never have they been more economical than the 3.75 runs per over they conceded on this crazy night in Tarouba.
Yet, for all the spinners’ efficacy and control across the 39.1 topsy-turvy overs, there still threatened to be a sting in the tail as Andre Russell’s astonishing 52 from 37 balls so nearly stole the match for the Tallawahs. As it turned out, this was a heist beyond even him and the Amazon Warriors successfully defended the lowest total in CPL history.
The defeat leaves the Tallawahs with plenty to consider about their approach – they faced 85 dot balls, by far their highest ever in a CPL match including eight of the last ten balls. For all the firepower in their batting lineup, their shortcomings were exposed badly by a team that out-thought them and adjusted to the conditions far quicker.
This was a remarkable defence by the Amazon Warriors, even by their standards, and the win puts them top of the table after two victories from three. It’s the kind of win that will make them feel they can beat anyone, and after that performance, you wouldn’t bet against them.
Patrick Noone is a CricViz analyst