Guyana Amazon Warriors 155 for 9 (Paul 38, Green 28, Malik 28, McCoy 4-41, Fawad 2-25) beat St Lucia Zouks 142 for 9 (Cornwall 36, Shadab 3-16, Shepherd 2-18, Green 2-28) by 13 runs
Left-arm seamer Obed McCoy bagged career-best T20 figures of 4 for 41 and Rahkeem Cornwall blitzed 36 off 14 balls, but it still wasn't enough for St Lucia Zouks as Guyana Amazon Warriors opened their CPL 2019 campaign with a 13-run win in front of a boisterous home crowd at Providence.
In pursuit of 156, Zouks enjoyed a blistering start, with Cornwall carting six boundaries in a mere eight balls. However, spinners Shadab Khan and Chris Green claimed five wickets between them to put the target beyond their opponents' reach.
It was stand-in captain Green who took the prized scalp of Cornwall and marshalled his resources smartly after regular captain Shoaib Malik copped a blow on his right forearm in the batting innings and did not take the field in the chase. His arm was seen in a sling at one point, but Green said later that it was just a precautionary measure.
The calm before the storm
Zouks will be without Lasith Malinga for the entire CPL 2019, but Krishmar Santokie and Kesrick Williams made an early impression with their pace variations and reduced Amazon Warriors to 25 for 2 in the fourth over. Shimron Hetmyer tempered his naturally attacking strokeplay and set about working past the early strikes along with Malik on a slow Providence track.
They put on 48 together in 47 balls before McCoy duped Hetmyer with his back-of-the-hand variation in the 12th over. Guyana's new marquee player Nicholas Pooran fell for a golden duck and then Fawad Ahmed had both Malik as well as Sherfane Rutherford stumped with fizzing wrong'uns, but Keemo Paul and Green landed the mighty blows at the death. They, too, forged a 48-run stand, but this came at a breakneck speed, off only 21 balls.
Paul showed why he was named West Indies' T20 player of the year, marrying power with composure. He took seven balls to get off the mark, but then teed off with a rasping slogged six over midwicket against the break off Fawad. He pressed on to smash Santokie for three successive boundaries in the penultimate over of the innings, helping Amazon Warriors breach 150.
Jimbo's opening salvo
Shadab had Andre Fletcher chopping on for 8, but Cornwall showed off his T20 prowess a week after making his Test debut. He golf-swung Paul down the ground, short-arm jabbed Ben Laughlin over the midwicket boundary, and laced Green against the turn over extra-cover. However, moments after he had taken Green for back-to-back fours, he was pinned lbw by a slider.
Where's your middle order, Zouks?
Malinga's Sri Lanka team-mate Niroshan Dickwella, too, had pulled out of the tournament while big-hitting New Zealand allrounder Colin de Grandhomme was away on international duty. The onus was on Darren Sammy, Thisara Perera, Najibullah Zadran and Chris Barnwell to see off the chase. But the spin of Shadab and the seam of Romario Shepherd were too much for the allrounders. From 52 for 2, Zouks slid rapidly to 109 for 7. Shadab, in particular, excelled with his legbreaks and googlies that gripped and turned sharply.
Santokie made a late cameo (15* off 9 balls), but all it did was to reduce the margin of defeat. These are still early days in the tournament, but Zouks need to patch up their flimsy middle order.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo