Romario Shepherd’s stunning all-round show inspires Amazon Warriors


Chris Green gave Tallawahs a glimmer late in the game but they failed to make the semi-finals

Guyana Amazon Warriors 142 for 7 (Shepherd 72*, Imad 3-15) beat Jamaica Tallawahs 128 (Smith 3-20, Shepherd 3-31) by 14 runs

Falling for a first-ball duck to an Imad Wasim arm ball, Odean Smith went back to the dugout with TV cameras showing his eyes welling up as Guyana Amazon Warriors slipped to 75 for 7 having chosen to bat first as a CPL playoff berth appeared to be slipping away. But a little over two hours later those impending tears of sadness turned to joy for Warriors thanks to one of the great all-round shows in CPL history from Romario Shepherd, who smashed an unbeaten 72 off 31 balls before following it up with 3 for 31 in the field to help his side clinch a 14-run win over Jamaica Tallawahs, sealing the playoff fates for both teams in the process.

The loss by Tallawahs also clinched the final playoff berth for St Lucia Kings, who needed help from the Warriors after a shock loss to Barbados Royals earlier in the day left the playoff door ajar for the Tallwahs before Shepherd slammed it shut.

Following an 80-minute delayed start that caused the match to be reduced to 18 overs, the Tallawahs’ decision at the toss to leave out Veerasammy Permaul for Fidel Edwards looked all the more foolish after Imad Wasim and Chris Green took a combined 5 for 34 in eight overs. Edwards leaked 0 for 27 in his two overs, and was hit out of the attack by Shepherd who ended the 14th with two sixes having been felled earlier in the over by a bouncer to the helmet.

But the biggest punishment was meted out by Shepherd to Russell, who regularly misfired on the length of his attempted wide yorkers only for Shepherd to crunch him for a trio of sixes and two more fours in the final three overs to take Warriors up to 142 for 7. Gudakesh Motie did his best to stay out of the way during their 67-run partnership, contributing five runs while Shepherd wisely turned down multiple singles in the final three overs.

The inability of Tallawahs’ attack to dislodge Motie and get through the rest of the tail cost them dearly in the end. Imran Tahir bowled a double-wicket maiden in the second over of the chase, removing Kennar Lewis with a googly before Kirk McKenzie missed a sweep to another wrong’un and was given leg before. Shepherd then produced a double-strike of his own in the eighth, getting Rovman Powell to heave a catch to deep square leg before Imad Wasim gifted his wicket away with a loose cut to Nicholas Pooran at backward point to make it 42 for 6.

Russell could be held back no longer and entered to strike 19 off 13, but Shepherd’s angle coming around the wicket to bowl wide yorkers slanted across the right-hander finally paid off with a catch sliced to Pooran at long-off. Needing 54 from the last pair, Green kept the faintest hope alive hitting a trio of sixes and headed into the final over on strike with Tallawahs needing 15 to win. But he was controversially given out next ball to Smith to end the match after swinging and missing at a length ball with replays showing no noise and a clear gap between bat and ball.

Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo’s USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna

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