GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — Guyana Amazon Warriors (GAW) leg-spinner Imran Tahir says he is proud to be the one to captain the franchise to their first Caribbean Premier League (CPL) title on Sunday.
GAW ended a decade-long wait for the CPL title when they defeated four-time champions Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) by nine wickets to lift the trophy here before an ecstatic fan base.
"I think this year we were more hungry than ever before," Tahir said after the game. "That's the thing, if you want something really badly, it will happen for you – even though we lost our first qualifier.
Having come up empty-handed in five previous finals, GAW put in a ruthless performance at the Guyana National Stadium, bundling TKR out for 94 and then chasing down the target off 14 overs.
"Everyone [was] saying about the [importance of the] toss, and we did it in both situations," Tahir said. "We batted first and we bowled second, and we bowled first and batted second, and we won the games, so the team belief was there.
"I said one thing before we came here: We have been the best in the competition, no one can stop us if we play the brand of cricket we have been playing, and that's all really."
The defeat for TKR was their first in four trips to a CPL final, but Captain Kieron Pollard said the batting performance always left them with a very difficult task of adding to their trophy haul.
"Obviously it's plain to see we didn't bat properly," he said. "Making 94 in the first innings of a final was never going to be enough.
"Am I disappointed with the result? Yes, I'm disappointed with the result. Am I disappointed in the fellas? No, I thought they played spectacularly well throughout the entire tournament and we were beaten by the better team in Guyana.
"So well played to Guyana. I thought they played well, they played consistent cricket throughout the tournament, and they were deserved winners tonight."
Pakistani opener Saim Ayub led the chase with an unbeaten 52 off 41 balls, while Player-of-the-Series Shai Hope stroked an unbeaten run-a-ball 32, the pair anchoring the innings in an 84-run, unbroken second-wicket stand.
Hope ended the campaign with 481 runs at an average of 53, with Saim just behind him on 478 runs at an average of 43.
South African speedster Dwaine Pretorius, who ended as the leading wicket-taker with 20 dismissals, had set up the win earlier with a spell of four for 26, which saw TKR crumble at the start of the penultimate over.
Pretorious was supported by left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie (2-7) and Tahir (2-8), both picking up two wickets apiece.
Keacy Carty top-scored with 38 but desperately lacked support as openers Mark Deyal (16) and Chadwick Walton (10) were the only other batsmen to reach double figures.
Sent in, TKR reached 24 in the third over courtesy of Deyal and Walton before things fell apart, six wickets tumbling for just 25 runs in the space of 40 deliveries.
Pretorious shattered Deyal's stumps in the third over before pacer Romario Shepherd hit Walton in front with one, which kept low in the next over.
When Nicholas Pooran advanced to Pretorious at the end of the fifth over and mistimed an expansive stroke to mid-off to perish for one, TKR were in further trouble on 35 for three.
Both Pollard (0) and Akeal Hosein (1) holed out in the deep in the seventh over from Motie, and Andre Russell (3) fell in the 10th over, trying to fetch a Tahir leg break from outside off-stump but managing only to find Pretorious at mid-on.
With the innings tottering on 49 for six, Carty attempted a rescue, striking two fours and a six in a 45-ball knock as he put on 32 for the seventh wicket with veteran Dwayne Bravo (8).
Once Tahir removed Bravo lbw, however, the remainder of the innings folded, Carty last out — brilliantly taken by Shimron Hetmyer at long on off pacer Ronsford Beaton.
In reply, Amazon Warriors' ploy of using Keemo Paul as opener failed, the right-hander lashing two fours in 11 before finding Pollard at mid-off off Hosein's left-arm spin, with 15 runs on the board in the third over.
Paul's demise was but a mere hiccup, however, as Saim and Hope took command of the chase as they had done so many times throughout the tournament.
The 21-year-old Saim, an elegant left-hander, struck two fours and five sixes — the last of which was a straight hit off speedster Ali Khan, which ended the contest — while Hope counted two fours.