THE brave decision of Guyana Amazon Warriors captain Ramnaresh Sarwan to bowl part-timer Christopher Barnwell in the last over of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League (LCPL) encounter against the Jamaica Tallawahs proved to be a master stroke.
Spinner Sunil Narine copped the Man-of-the-Match award with a miserly spell of 1-10, but the medium pacer Barnwell grabbed two wickets for four runs in his only over of the match to help inflict a five-run defeat on the Tallawahs' home turf at Sabina Park in Kingston, yesterday.
Sarwan had the option of bowling left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul, who had earlier delivered three decent overs, but the Warriors captain surprised many when he placed the responsibility on Barnwell's strong shoulders.
The all-rounder duly obliged and varied his pace well to outsmart the Tallawahs' batsmen who were seeking 10 runs from six balls.
Both Vernon Philander and David Bernard mistimed short deliveries and were out caught for one and zero, respectively, as the Tallawahs were held to 134-8 chasing 140 runs for victory.
The double disappointment of the loss and the reality of an absence of lights to host night matches at Sabina Park did little to suppress the excitement on hand for home fans -- many of whom stayed back briefly to soak in the after-party music.
Scores: Guyana Amazon Warriors 139-6 (20 overs); Jamaica Tallawahs 134-8 (20 overs)
With the win, the Amazon Warriors moved to joint top of the standings alongside Barbados Tridents with eight points from six matches. Jamaica are two points behind with a game in hand.
Earlier, blessed with sunny conditions that belied the gloom witnessed as most of the island was drenched by torrential showers a couple days before, the Tallawahs captain Christopher Gayle won the toss and decided to bowl first.
Left-hander James Franklin, with 40 off 29 balls, Martin Guptill (39) and Lendl Simmons (30) helped the Warriors to their eventual total.
Seamer Vernon Philander took 2-23 off four overs, while disappointingly for the Amazon Warriors, Barnwell and Pakistan Mohammad Hafeez went via the run out route.
Barnwell was beaten by a direct throw on the turn from Philander, while attempting to sneak a second run after dragging the bowler's short ball to vacant midwicket. Hafeez was also caught short by Bernard's athleticism and accuracy.
In search of the two points needed to help solidify their semi-final quest, the Tallawahs started brightly enough and reached 66-1 inside the first 10 overs.
Number three batsman Chadwick Walton, playing his first match of the tournament, was particularly impressive, hoisting four sixes and one four in his 20-ball 36 runs.
His cameo, which highlighted a
46-run second wicket stand with Twenty20 cricket's marquee batsman Gayle, had the good-sized crowd in a frenzy.
Walton's dismissal -- skying a catch to Franklin off Steven Jacobs' off-spin -- and that of Gayle, who was bowled for a 46-ball 43 by an expertly delivered yorker from left-arm swing bowler Krishmar Santokie in the 15th over, kept the Amazon Warriors just ahead in the tight contest.
Helped by a few lusty blows as the end drew near, the home team stayed close, but Barnwell's heroics made the telling difference.
The Tallawahs next face the Tridents at Sabina tomorrow, while the Warriors close the preliminary stage against the hosts Antigua Hawksbills at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.