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Gayle sizzles but St Kitts fizzle out

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Guyana Amazon Warriors 148 for 4 (Hetmyer 79*, Green 25*, Lamichhane 2-12) beat St Kitts & Nevis Patriots 146 for 5 (Gayle 86, Paul 2-16) by six wickets

Guyana Amazon Warriors avenged a Lauderhill sweep at the hands of St Kitts & Nevis Patriots in 2017 courtesy an action-packed unbeaten half-century from local hero Shimron Hetmyer in their season opener at Providence.

Chris Gayle‘s 86 after being sent into bat could have been match-winning on a sticky surface where the next best was 16. St Kitts smothered the hosts three overs into the chase of 147 at 24 for 3, but a strategic ploy to use Tom Cooper’s part-time offspin went awry as the first three balls of the fourth over were creamed for a four and two sixes by Hetmyer. This swung momentum in Guyana’s favour, and there was no looking back after that, with victory eventually achieved in 16.3 overs.

Gayle’s stroke of luck

Each team’s leading scorer on the night profited heavily from major let-offs early in their innings. Fot St Kitts, the Universe Boss was stone dead on five after missing a sweep in the second over to Chris Green’s offspin. Gayle made the most of the reprieve, grafting his way through the first half of the innings, scoring at less than a run a ball, before spanking Green over long-on off back-to-back sixes to end the 10th.

Gayle brought up a 41-ball half-century in the 13th, then accelerated sharply over the next few overs. He finally fell to Tahir in the 19th courtesy of a sensational catch from Sherfane Rutherford, who sprinted in from the cover boundary before diving forward to end Gayle’s stay 14 short of a century.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane… it’s Sherfane!

Rutherford’s catch to dismiss Gayle made amends for shelling a straightforward skier to reprieve Cooper at the deep square leg boundary in the 11th over. The 19-year-old from Guyana proved his Gayle catch was no fluke when he charged in five balls later for a carbon copy catch running in from the boundary before flying through the air to claim Anton Devcich. Keemo Paul’s figures after claiming Devicich’s were almost as brilliant as Rutherford’s pair of catches. The fast bowler finishing with 2 for 16 in his four overs to help keep Patriots to 146 for 5.

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Sheldon and Sandy show

Gayle tossed the new ball to fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell and Nepal leggie Lamichhane and the result was three wickets in three overs. Cottrell carried over his brilliant form from the Global T20 Canada, where he was the tournament’s leading wicket-taker for the champion Vancouver Knights. He knocked over Luke Ronchi with an inswinger for a duck in the first over.

Lamichhane’s first delivery in the CPL was far from the best ball he’s ever bowled, but Chadwick Walton drove a leg-stump half-volley straight to Ben Cutting at mid-on to make the score 9 for 2. Shoaib Malik counterattacked in the following over with three boundaries off Cottrell before the left-arm pacer broke out his military salute for the second time with a ball that nipped away for a thin edge through to Devon Thomas to make it 24 for 3 after three overs.

Thomas lapse proves costly as Hetmyer blazes away

It could easily have been 24 for 4 at that stage though. Lamichanne’s first over also produced another chance when Hetmyer was deceived off a googly, the first ball he faced. But wicketkeeper Devon Thomas read the ball out of Lamichhane’s hand even worse than Hetmyer and the result was an awkward thud into the keeper’s left leg as the rest of his body moved right.

Rather than stick with Lamichhane to continue attacking, Gayle tossed the ball to Cooper for the fourth over. A half-tracker swatted for four by Hetmyer was followed by two full tosses clubbed for six. It was the start of a nine-ball sequence that saw momentum take a 180 degree turn the Warriors way from 24 for 3 to 61 for 3.

Alzarri Joseph began the fifth over to Hetmyer with a no ball clattered through point for four followed by a six off the free hit over midwicket. A wide bouncer next ball meant Joseph had conceded 12 runs off one legal delivery. The next two balls weren’t much better as Hetmyer finessed another pair of fours. Hetmyer scored 36 off the 10 balls that followed Thomas’ fluffed stumping, taking the required run rate under a run a ball in the process while the Powerplay was still in progress.

Despite three more terrific overs from Lamichhane, who ended with figures of 2 for 12 in four, Hetmyer faced little pressure the rest of the way. He coasted to his fifty off 29 balls before meting out more punishment to Ben Cutting in the 16th with two fours and a six. Hetmyer drove his former 2016 Under-19 World Cup teammate Joseph down the ground for his ninth boundary on the night three balls into the next over to clinch a Warriors victory.

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