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Tillakaratne Dilshan led the way for the Warriors with ball and then with bat.

Tillakaratne Dilshan led the way for the Warriors with ball and then with bat.

PORT OF SPAIN – A rampaging Guyana Amazon Warriors secured the first spot in the final of the inaugural Limacol Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 Tournament after mauling Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel by seven wickets in their semi-final clash played at the Queens Park Oval last night.

The star-studded Red Steel were bundled out for 103 off 19.3 overs after being sent in by the Warriors who then reached a winning target of 107 for 3 off 16.2 overs with little bother.

Guyana opened with left-arm swing bowler Krishmar Santokie and off-spinner Tillarakaratne Dilshan. The pair were immediately effective — Dilshan dismissed Kevin O’Brien in the second over, while Santokie’s slower delivery completely befuddled Mahela Jayawardene who lobbed a simple catch to Ramnaresh Sarwan at cover.

Having softened up their hosts, Sarwan, the Guyana captain, then brought two of his most experienced bowlers into the attack. Lasith Malinga and Sunil Narine came on for just one over each but further stifled the struggling batsmen, conceding only six runs between them. The pressure got to Ross Taylor, who on 6 fell trying to attempt a slog off Veerasammy Permaul over deep midwicket but found Christopher Barnwell.

The misery continued for Red Steel and they found themselves at 32 for 5 in the ninth over and they slid to 56 for 6, losing Adrian Barath via the run-out route; Darren Bravo caught by James Franklin on the boundary off Dilshan; and Nicholas Pooran who nibbled an attempted cut off Permaul through to Denesh Ramdin. Then a crucial 45-run seventh-wicket partnership between Dwayne Bravo and Kevon Cooper brought some semblance of respectability back into the innings. Their stand also managed to lift the run rate and take the score past 100.

The end of T&T’s innings, however, seemed to mirror the start. Cooper was out at the end of the 18th over for a 17-ball 27. Sulieman Benn departed in the next over for a duck and Malinga, bowling the last over of the match, dismissed Bravo and Fidel Edwards off successive deliveries to wrap-up the innings for 103.

In spite of the early wicket of Lendl Simmons to Edwards, Guyana were hardly troubled in the chase. Dilshan, having finished

with bowling figures of 2 for 14, anchored the Guyana reply with a 29-ball 39, which included three fours and a six. Red Steel’s bowlers did manage to take two more wickets but it hardly improved their chances, as Guyana eased past the target with 22 balls to spare.

Afterwards Sarwan hailed the performance of the Amazon Warriors.

“It was almost the perfect performance,” Sarwan said. “What we wanted to do was put them in to bat and put them under pressure because [Kevin] O’Brien has been playing a big part at the top of the order and getting them off to a flier. With our bowling attack we had a good chance of getting him out and then grabbing another one or two [wickets], and we were able to do that.”

The Amazon Warriors’ campaign seemed to have hit a speed bump when Kiwi batsman Martin Guptill injured his hand in the final group game in Antigua and Pakistan’s Mohammad Hafeez had to leave for national duty in Zimbabwe. Both batsmen were among the top ten run- scorers of the tournament. But their two Sri Lankan replacement players in Malinga and Dilshan contributed significantly to their side overcoming Red Steel.

“We had to make it count,” Dilshan said. “We were coming from a long way – more than 20 hours flying – and then playing a match within 24-hours’ time, we had to make it count here otherwise it would have been a waste coming from there [Sri Lanka]. I have really enjoyed my performance today, especially considering it was the semi-final. We are through to final — that was the main goal for us today. We have a day off so we can rest and come back on Saturday and play good cricket against whoever comes the final.”

Curtly Ambrose, Guyana’s assistant coach, said he had always known his side was capable of putting together a game like this. “I’ve been saying it right from the start, that we have a good enough team to win the tournament as long as we play proper cricket,” he said. “We haven’t played our best game up until today and I keep telling the guys there are two good games somewhere round the corner — this was one of them. So I’m hoping that we can bring our A game to the finals on Saturday and win the tournament.”

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