Guyana Amazon Warriors 90 for 4 (Hetmyer 32*) beat Barbados Tridents 89 for 9 (Tahir 3-12, Shepherd 3-22) by six wickets
A year ago when their season was on the line in danger of missing the playoffs, the Barbados Tridents rallied with a string of stirring performances spearheaded by a canny bowling attack to propel them not only into the playoffs but to the tournament title. But in 2020, the Tridents arsenal of big name bowlers could not cover up a patchwork batting order in another must-win situation at Brian Lara Academy as they completed a hat-trick of sub-100 batting totals, including back-to-back displays against the Guyana Amazon Warriors who knocked out the defending champions by six wickets with 34 balls to spare.
The Amazon Warriors were playing their third match in three days, two of them against the Tridents. But the defending champions could not find a solution to improve upon their 92 all out performance from 48 hours earlier, somehow faring worse off by three runs. The lack of spirit with the bat spread to the field as an absence of slip fielders meant two possible catches went unclaimed.
After an expensive first over in the third, marquee spinner Rashid Khan was not brought back until the target was down to 23. Fellow legspinner Hayden Walsh Jr, the 2019 CPL Player of the Tournament, grazed the boundary for the entirety of the chase despite having figures of 4 for 28 in six overs bowled across the Tridents' previous two matches.
Shepherding the wickets column
Traditionally held back until the death by captain Chris Green, Romario Shepherd was given a chance in the Powerplay and the move paid off almost immediately to spark another top-order slide. Shepherd conceded a first-ball boundary cracked through point, but when Johnson Charles tried to repeat the shot next ball, the delivery didn't come onto the bat as cleanly and wound up fluttering to Ross Taylor at point. Khan was promoted to No. 3 as a pinch-hitter in an effort to shake up a slumbering line-up, but it had no impact. A top-edged pull first ball found the hands of Brandon King diving spectacularly on the square-leg rope to put Shepherd on a hat trick.
Green and Imran Tahir continued to chip away at the middle order before Shepherd came back and struck two balls after the drinks break for his third wicket as Jason Holder's ill-advised heave down the ground found Green at long-on to make it 39 for 6. Though not as dire as their position of 27 for 8 from two nights earlier, it was still too steep to climb out of.
Just like Tuesday night, it was left to Mitchell Santner to perform CPR on the innings, teaming with Nyeem Young for a 30-run stand as both men jointly top-scored with 18. But after Santner fell the Tridents tail could manage just 20 runs off the last 25 deliveries in the innings as Shepherd and Naveen-ul-Haq kept them off balance with regular changes of pace.
Where's the desperation?
Based on some of the field settings and bowling choices, a viewer would have a hard time believing that the Tridents were fighting to keep their season alive. After a first ball wide, Santner claimed Brandon King for a golden duck by slipping an arm ball through the gate. Three balls later, Santner appeared to have Chandrapaul Hemraj trapped for another duck with one that straightened to beat the bat, but his lbw shout was denied.
Luck deserted Santner and the Tridents again when Hemraj was dropped on 14 at deep midwicket by Walsh Jr on a difficult lunging chance along the rope after having covered 25 yards running left. Hemraj finally fell for 29 in the fifth, as another heave for midwicket off Holder's medium pace resulted in an edge that flew to Young at deep third man. Holder then induced an edge behind to start the seventh to claim Sherfane Rutherford.
But with the Tridents needing to push as hard as possible for wickets, Holder curiously opted to not give Raymon Reifer a slip when bowling to Shimron Hetmyer at the start of the eighth over and an edge flew past wicketkeeper Charles' diving effort for four. After Reifer dismissed Pooran with a skied chance in the ring, Young similarly induced an edge off Hetmyer in the ninth which would have carried comfortably to slip, had there been one in place.
Their most expensive overseas player and the No. 1 bowler on the T20I rankings, Khan was kept out of the attack after some early punishment from Hemraj and wasn't given a chance to attack any incoming batsmen until the match was nearly finished. Walsh Jr had it even worse. After dropping the early chance on the rope, he was never brought into the attack. It was a stark reversal of fortunes for the leading wicket-taker from the 2019 tournament and symbolised the wayward 2020 campaign for the Tridents as a whole.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna