Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Guyana Amazon Warriors 99 for 1 (Ayub 52*, Hope 32) beat Trinbago Knight Riders 94 (Carty 38, Pretorius 4-26, Motie 2-7, Tahir 2-8) by nine wickets
An emotional Imran Tahir couldn't stop his tears all the way from the end of the CPL 2023 final to the presentation ceremony and beyond. He had, after all, played a big role in taking Guyana Amazon Warriors to their first CPL title after having fallen short in five finals in the past.
Amazon Warriors did it by bowling out the most successful CPL franchise - Trinbago Knight Riders - for just 94 in front of a rapturous home crowd in Providence, before racing past the target with six overs to spare, which sparked wild celebrations. Dwaine Pretorius' 4 for 26 led the demolition, and he was assisted by frugal spells from Romario Shepherd, Tahir and Gudakesh Motie. Pretorius and Shepherd were crucial to Amazon Warriors' title run, picking up 19 wickets in the powerplay over the season. Once they were done setting up the win, Saim Ayub and Shai Hope combined for a brisk, unbroken stand to take them home.
Amazon Warriors went wicketless for nearly three overs after opting to bowl, but Knight Riders lost three wickets in as many overs to lose their way after that. Pretorius bowled Mark Deyal for 16, Shepherd trapped Chadwick Walton lbw for 10, and Pretorius had Nicholas Pooran skying one to mid-off the very next ball after wicketkeeper Azam Khan had dropped Pooran.
Knight Riders had barely recovered from 35 for 3 when their new batters, Kieron Pollard and Akeal Hosein, holed out in the same over off Motie while going for questionable big shots. Pollard found deep midwicket for a duck before Hosein miscued to long-off where Shimron Hetmyer took an excellent running catch.
Keacy Carty and Andre Russell had started to stem the slide with a few singles against Tahir and Motie but they had not even reached the halfway stage - or put up 50 on the board - when Tahir followed two googlies with a legbreak and had Russell miscue to mid-on for 3.
There was no coming back from 49 for 6. Carty did his bit with a few big hits, but Tahir trapped Dwayne Bravo for 8 off 18 before Pretorius returned for a two-wicket over, and Ronsford Beaton finished the innings with Carty's wicket in the 19th over. It was Knight Riders' second-lowest total in a 20-over game.
Amazon Warriors were in no rush at the start of their chase, especially after Keemo Paul fell for a run-a-ball 11 in the third over. Hope and Ayub saw off the next three overs of spin from Sunil Narine and Hosein with just one four to reach their lowest powerplay score of the season: 29 for 1.
But the season's top-two run-getters changed gears after that, especially Ayub, who targeted the straight boundary for four of his five sixes. The first two came in Waqar Salamkheil's first over as soon as the powerplay ended, the third came in his next over deep midwicket, and when Amazon Warriors needed just 12 to win, Ayub blasted two more over Ali Khan's head in the same over.
That completed his half-century too, and even as the party took off, Ayub stood at the crease with his helmet in his left hand, the bat in his right, arms spread wide, a hint of a smile on his face, till he was lifted off his feet by his jubilant team-mates.
Apart from having Hope and Ayub at the top of the batting chart, Pretorius and Tahir finished as the top-two wicket-takers with 20 and 18 wickets respectively, and Hope was also named the Player of the Tournament.
Over 14 • GAW 99/1Amazon won by 9 wickets (with 36 balls remaining)
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