Guyana Amazon Warriors 144 for 3 (Pooran 54*) beat Trinbago Knight Riders 143 for 5 (Munro 43, Hemraj 3-15) by seven wickets
A record-setting winning streak shows no signs of slowing down in the CPL playoffs as Guyana Amazon Warriors became the first team in CPL history to go a perfect 10 for 10 in the regular season, closing out the league phase in confident fashion with a seven-wicket win over defending champions Trinbago Knight Riders at Providence. A scintillating half-century from Nicholas Pooran made sure a target of 144 was never enough and the win sets up a date for Warriors in the 1st v 2nd qualifier on Sunday at Providence against Barbados Tridents.
After the Knight Riders kept stride for stride with the Warriors over the first four matches of the season, the reigning champions are now winless in their last six. While the Warriors were already guaranteed of playing in Sunday's playoff qualifier match, the loss on Friday night was costly for the Knight Riders, who could have forced an immediate rematch in the qualifier had they beaten the Warriors. Instead, Knight Riders ended the regular season in fourth place with the loss, falling back into the first elimination playoff against St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots.
Hemmed in by new-ball (non)spin
Chandrapaul Hemraj had taken just two wickets in 12 career overs in T20 cricket entering the night. But never has a straight ball proven to be more lethal in the CPL from a left-arm orthodox bowler. Given the new ball for the fourth time in the season, Hemraj devastated the Knight Riders top order with a career-best 3 for 15.
After the opening experiment with Jimmy Neesham failed in their previous match against Barbados Tridents, Javon Searles was asked to open alongside Lendl Simmons but fared little better as he tried to smash Hemraj over midwicket and was bowled for 1 in the third over. After a wide, Denesh Ramdin played back to another arm ball that skidded on and crashed into middle stump for a golden duck. Simmons had made a decent start at the opposite end but eventually made the same mistake as Ramdin, playing back to a fullish length ball that continued straight on and pegged back off stump to fall for 30 in the seventh over. It was just the fourth time in CPL history that a bowler had taken a three-for with every wicket out bowled.
Colin Munro and Kieron Pollard rallied the Knight Riders in the middle order. A 39-run stand between the two was followed by an unbroken 41-run stand between Pollard and Neesham that was dominated by the captain to lift the Knight Riders up to a competitive total.
King of the off side
The Knight Riders did their best to build some pressure in the Powerplay, bowling 19 dot balls. But Brandon King was ruthless whenever width was offered. He smashed an overpitched delivery through the covers to start off the Amazon Warrior's reply off Akeal Hosein's left-arm spin, then guided an edge past slip to end the over for four more.
Four more boundaries were cracked by King between backward point and extra cover before the Powerplay was done, two back-foot drives off Khary Pierre and two cuts off Ali Khan. He added a seventh four through backward point off Neesham before being dismissed on the next ball for 33, given lbw despite replays showing a clear inside edge.
Pooran freed up at the finish
The Knight Riders continued to make inroads after the dismissal of King as Khan bounced out Hemraj before Pierre induced a loose drive by Shimron Hetmyer to short cover just before a 37-minute rain delay to make the score 59 for 3, at which point scores were level on DLS. Pooran arrived at the resumption of play and played cautiously with Shoaib Malik for the better part of the next eight overs. But with 42 required off four overs, the pressure was released with a costly error from Neesham to start the 17th.
With Shoaib on strike, Neesham sent down a rib-high full toss that was called a no ball, taking a single to third man. Pooran came on strike on 24 off 24 balls at the time, but took the license afforded by the free hit to hammer a straight drive for six. It was all he needed to get his innings unstuck, driving the next ball through point for four before ending the over with another class drive through extra cover for another boundary.
The cherry on top came in the 18th off Chris Jordan. Pooran took a length ball off the stumps and flicked a jawdropping shot with powerful wrist work high over square leg for another six. It took the equation under a run a ball with 12 off 14 needed. He brought up his half-century off 34 balls in the next over off Khan converting an attempted yorker through long-off for a boundary, then iced the match carving another four over point, bringing up 1000 career CPL runs in the process.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna