GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — Shamarh Brooks crafted an astonishing, unbeaten hundred to power Jamaica Tallawahs to a 37-run victory over Guyana Amazon Warriors, late on Wednesday, and into Friday's final of the Caribbean Premier League.
The elegant right-hander produced a breathtaking 109 not out off 52 deliveries — the tournament's highest score — as the Tallawahs raced to a season-high 226 for four off their 20 overs at Guyana National Stadium.
Left-arm spinner Imad Wasim belted a 15-ball unbeaten 41 then claimed two for 25 while off-spinner Chris Green, with two for 40, helped limit the Amazon Warriors to 189 for eight from their allotted overs.
The contest was as good as over in the 18th over once top-scorer Keemo Paul perished for 56 off 37 balls, but Odean Smith (24) and Gudakesh Motie (22 not out) struck some powerful blows to narrow the eventual margin of victory in a 40-run, eighth-wicket stand.
While the Amazon Warriors were left to deal with disappointment the Tallawahs will now face Barbados Royals in the championship game.
"It's a tremendous feeling; credit has to be given to the 16 guys [in the squad]," said the Tallawahs Captain Rovman Powell.
"I think they fought right throughout the season and fought brilliantly."
Sent in, the Tallawahs were tottering on 16 for two in the third over when Kennar Lewis (0) and Brandon King (6) fell cheaply, but Brooks arrived at number three to transform his side's fortunes.
Dropped on five by wicketkeeper Rahmanullah Gurbaz — a straightforward chance in the third over from seamer Romario Shepherd (2-43) — Brooks capitalised on his good fortune to take apart the hosts' attack.
He struck seven fours and eight sixes, an array of exquisite strokes on both sides of the wicket, as he marched to his half-century off 34 balls in the 14th over. He needed only another 16 balls to reach his maiden hundred, the landmark raised with a boundary to extra cover in the final over.
"I had lunch with Brandon King and he was very upset with the way I got out in the last innings on 47," Brooks said.
"So, he told me I need to take it all the way down, regardless of what I think, and that's what I did today — and it paid dividends."
He added: "I thought about it about two or three weeks go [that] I need to get a hundred in a T20 game, to put the icing on the cake. I really didn't expect it to happen tonight but I'll take it with both hands."
Brooks added 55 for the third wicket with Powell (37) and 52 for the fourth wicket with Raymon Reifer (22) before putting on an incredible 103 from the last 29 balls of the innings in partnership with Imad, who lashed four fours and three sixes.
"I've watched the legend Chris Gayle, I've also watched the superman Andre Russell score hundreds for the franchise … but this one is right up there with maybe one of the best hundreds I've ever seen in T20 cricket," gushed Powell.
Facing a difficult required run rate of 11.35, Amazon Warriors lost Irishman Paul Stirling in the third over for two with 19 on the board, but recovered through Shai Hope (31) who posted 31 for the second wicket with Rahmanullah (22).
Green snatched two wickets to stall the progress at 78 for four in the eighth over before Paul, who blasted seven fours and a six, repaired the damage in a 34-run, fifth-wicket stand with Captain Shimron Hetmyer (15).
Hetmyer and Shepherd (two) fell in successive overs to all but derailed any serious challenge before Paul followed after posting 34 for the seventh with Motie.