Guyana Amazon Warriors 158 for 4 (Hetmyer 59, Rutherford 45*, Fawad 2-20) beat Trinbago Knight Riders 154 for 7 (Darren Bravo 42*, Ramdin 32, Emrit 2-25) by six wickets
Homegrown young guns Shimron Hetmyer and Sherfane Rutherford's furious assault on the Trinbago Knight Riders ensured Guyana Amazon Warriors clinched second place in the league stage of the 2018 CPL, with a six-wicket win on Sunday night.
Warriors raced past a target of 155 with 5.5 overs to spare to overtake Jamaica Tallawahs, whom they tied on 12 points, on net run-rate and set up a rematch between the sides in the first qualifier on Tuesday. Tallawahs finished third and will take on St Kitts & Nevis Patriots in the Eliminator on Wednesday.
Colin Munro, the season's highest scorer, was joined by his namesake in the Knight Riders lineup, with South African Colin Ingram called up as a replacement for Chris Lynn, who has gone back to Australia for the start of his country's domestic season. But neither Colin made an impact as both were dismissed for single-digit scores.
Munro fell in the third over to Sohail Tanvir, when he edged behind a flat-footed swipe. Ten balls later, Ingram slogged Amazon Warriors captain Chris Green to long-on. Brendon McCullum ran himself out with a poor call, taking on Cameron Delport's arm from backward point, as the Knight Riders' top order dug the team into a massive hole at 23 for 3 inside the Powerplay.
Ray of Light
Rayad Emrit not only lost the Amazon Warriors captaincy but was also dropped outright for the side's match a night earlier, in a win over Barbados Tridents, after going four straight matches without a wicket. But a series of injuries to the fast bowling unit opened the door for a recall less than 24 hours later. The 37-year-old made the most of his second chance, taking 2 for 25 in four overs.
Initially, it looked like his luckless season would continue, when Hetmyer and Chadwick Walton's near collision resulted in a dropped chance early in the 12th over. But Emrit's wicketless stretch finally ended at the conclusion of the over, when Denesh Ramdin flicked to deep square leg, where he was snapped up by Devendra Bishoo, ending a 54-run stand. Emrit struck again, in the 16th over, to clean bowl Dwayne Bravo, who was beaten on the drive, as the Knight Riders struggled. A flurry in the last few overs from Kevon Cooper, who hit three fours and three sixes in his 30 off 14 balls, took the visitors past 150.
For Amazon Warriors to give themselves a second shot at making the final, they needed to chase down the target of 155 in 15.3 overs. The hometown fans had plenty to dance about, thanks to another brilliant knock from the 21-year old Hetmyer.
Coming in at the fall of Luke Ronchi to a Fawad Ahmed googly in the fourth over, Hetmyer clattered 59 off 30 balls, including five sixes. The home side were drifting somewhat at 67 for 2 in nine overs, before Hetmyer gave them a huge lift heading into the drinks break by smashing Cooper's last three balls before the interval for six, four and six over the leg side.
Jason Mohammed fell to the first ball after drinks, brilliantly caught at long-off by Dwayne Bravo, but 20-year old Rutherford stole the momentum straight back as he electrified the crowd with three consecutive sixes immediately after arriving. After heaving two over the leg side, he executed an audacious reverse sweep off Nikita Miller over third man for the third six in the sequence.
Hetmyer clobbered Anderson Phillip for a four and two more sixes off three straight balls in the following over. Rutherford then tore into Bravo in the 13th for three more sixes, taking the equation down to 10 off 15 balls for Guyana to overtake the Tallawahs on net run-rate.
Worse than Bravo's death bowling was his strategic blunder in failing to bowl out Fawad, the CPL's leading wicket-taker. On a night when TKR was already shorthanded in the bowling department by virtue of resting their leading pace bowler Ali Khan, Fawad's last two overs were held back even as the rest of the bowling unit was torn to shreds by both the Guyana youngsters. Fawad was brought back for his third over in the 14th, and he dismissed Hetmyer, but Walton clubbed a full toss for six the next ball to level the scores. Rutherford then ended the match on the first ball of the 15th.
Both Ali Khan and Sunil Narine will be back for the playoff contest after putting their legs up on this occasion, but the Amazon Warriors gave enough reasons on this occasion to not take them lightly on home soil in Tuesday's Qualifier 1.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna