Guyana Amazon Warriors 153 for 3 (Pooran 100*) beat St Kitts and Nevis Patriots 150 for 5 (Da Silva 59) by seven wickets
Nicholas Pooran hit his maiden T20 hundred from just 45 balls to lead Guyana Amazon Warriors from 25 for 3 to a seven-wicket win with 21 balls to spare in a chase of 151 against St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, taking his side into play-off contention after a wretched start to the tournament.
Pooran dominated an unbroken 128-run stand for the fourth wicket with Ross Taylor, who was happy to play second fiddle with 25 not out off 27 balls. Pooran hit 10 towering sixes on a tricky Queen's Park Oval pitch on which St Lucia Zouks had defended 92 earlier in the day, and his hitting was breathtakingly clean as he targeted the Patriots spinners, effortlessly lofting them over wide long-off and heaving through midwicket.
After Joshua Da Silva's 59 had dragged the Patriots up to 150 for 5 and Jon-Russ Jaggesar took two wickets in the final over of the Powerplay, the Amazon Warriors looked in all sorts of trouble, not least with their batting line-up misfiring throughout the season. But Pooran made any suggestions of their demise look startlingly premature.
Evin Lewis looked in all sorts of pain batting at No. 7 after a groin injury on Saturday night, but was named in the Patriots side at the toss, while Sheldon Cottrell missed out due to a niggle. But it was a real shock to see Chris Lynn left out, even after 73 runs in six innings, and fellow overseas player Nick Kelly was also left to carry the drinks.
Guyana sprung a surprise too, leaving out Lynn's future Mumbai Indians team-mate Sherfane Rutherford and dropping Chandrapaul Hemraj after a poor run this season. Their batting line-up looked particular short with Kevin Sinclair - a lower-middle order option for WI Emerging Players in the Regional Super50 last season - as a makeshift opener and Keemo Paul carded at No. 6.
Sinclair, the 20-year-old Guyanese allrounder, was handed the new ball as Chris Green opted to bowl six overs of offspin in the Powerplay, and he upstaged his captain with a fine spell. He struck in his second over, as Lewis chopped an offbreak onto his own stumps, and celebrated in style that would make a professional gymnast proud.
He continued to keep the Patriots quiet with a combination of arm balls and regulation offbreaks, varying his lines and pace, and conceded only nine runs from his allocation of four overs.
Da Silva accelerates
Da Silva was a team-mate of Sinclair's in WI Emerging Players' improbable run to the Super50 title last year, and despite him impressed with runs in the warm-up games on West Indies' tour of England, the general consensus was that he was not suited to T20 cricket.
He had done little to dispel that idea in the first 12 overs of the innings today, nudging his way to 16 off 26 balls having been dropped earlier in the tournament amid concerns about his strike rate. But after swatting Ashmead Nedd through mid-off, he turned on the style once Guyana threw the ball to a seamer, Keemo Paul, for the first time in the 14th over.
Despite struggling in the heat, Da Silva heaved Paul's slower balls for six, before hitting Imran Tahir for four and then bringing up his maiden T20 fifty, upper-cutting a Naveen-ul-Haq slower ball for three before smacking him for two boundaries to finish the 17th over. He had laid the foundation for late acceleration, with Denesh Ramdin - whom he had dislodged from the Trinidad and Tobago side in first-class cricket last season - whacking two sixes at the death to take the Patriots to 150.
King loses his crown
Brandon King was the leading run-scorer in the CPL last season but has had a miserable time of it this year. After hitting Alzarri Joseph for two early boundaries - as the Patriots opened the bowling with the only two bowlers to take an IPL six-for - King swatted awkwardly at a short ball, giving Ramdin an easy catch behind the stumps.
That left his returns for the tournament at 60 runs at 8.57 from seven innings, and when Jaggesar took two wickets in the final over of the Powerplay, Guyana were in disarray at 25 for 3. But that brought Pooran and Taylor together, who quickly turned the game on its head.
Pooran wins it
As the required run rate soared to 9.5 runs per over, Pooran decided to take the attack to the Patriots, slapping Jaggesar for two sixes over long-off as Taylor short-arm jabbed Emrit over midwicket. Pooran then attacked Imran Khan, hitting him for two sixes and a four in the 11th over, before adding another towering blow off Jaggesar.
Joseph's return did little to stem the flow, as the partnership ticked up towards the first century stand of the tournament with two boundaries off him and a towering six over midwicket off Ish Sodhi, eventually reaching it with an enormous lofted drive through mid-off from Sohail Tanvir.
A maiden ton looked out of reach with Pooran on 82 at the start of the 17th over with only 16 runs required, but he hit each of Sodhi's three balls over the ropes, roaring in celebration as he sealed the win and made the first hundred of the CPL season in the process.
On this form, there is little stopping Pooran, who was brutal down the ground and in front of square on the leg side and calmly ticked over with well-placed singles when his calculations suggested that a boundary wasn't possible. Tonight will be a huge positive for West Indies, with evidence that he can fire even on difficult, turning wickets ahead of next year's T20 World Cup in India.