PROVIDENCE, Guyana – Chadwick Walton carried his bat for fluent, unbeaten 80 to propel Trinbago Knight Riders to a comfortable seven-wicket win against hosts Guyana Amazon Warriors on Wednesday and into the final of the Caribbean Premier League.
The 38-year-old Jamaican was given the chance to open the batting and shrugged off indifferent form, and he smashed six fours and four sixes from 57 balls, and Knight Riders successfully chased 167 under the lights in the major semi-final before another capacity crowd at the Guyana National Stadium.
Walton made sure TKR never fell behind the scoring rate, and he shared successive half-century stands with Nicholas Pooran and his captain Kieron Pollard to set the foundations for the fruitful run chase that put them in the showpiece match on Sunday at the same venue.
“I would like to say thanks to the players and coaches for having confidence in me,” Walton said during the official post-play TV interview after accepting the Player-of-the-Match award. “I treated this as just another game, but it was an emotional half-century. It’s been a while since I got a 50, so kudos to the guys who trusted me.”
Fittingly, he sealed the deal for Knight Riders with 11 balls remaining in the contest when he drove a delivery from Amazon Warriors captain and former South Africa leg-spinner Imran Tahir to long-on for a single.
“I think we owe this victory to proper planning,” TKR captain Kieron Pollard said during the captains’ post-play TV interview. “Kudos to the backroom staff. The way we went about planning for (Warriors), and to come out and execute like this.
On the final, he said: “I have not thought about it yet. For us, the next 24 hours is to bask in the glory and acknowledge what we have accomplished. After that, we will think about the final.”
Fortunately for the Warriors, they will have another crack at reaching the final, but they will have to be much better than they were in this match if they are to get past last year’s champions Jamaica Tallawahs in the qualifying final at 7 p.m. East Caribbean Time on Friday at the same venue.
“Tactically, they were good,” all-rounder Romario Shepherd, standing in for the injured Tahir, said during the post-play TV interview. “I think we were 20 runs short. With the bowlers we had, we thought we could have defended 167. Walton batted well, and a few chances went down.”
Knight Riders chose to bowl, and they bowled with disciplined, led by Afghanistan unorthodox left-arm spinner Waqar Salamkheil and pacer Terrence Hinds, to restrict the Amazon Warriors to their lowest total this season when batting first of 166 for seven after 20 overs.
Waqar ended with two for 28 from his allotted four overs, including the prized scalps of this season’s two most prolific batsmen, Pakistani opener Saim Ayub for the top score of 49 and West Indies One-day International captain Shai Hope for two.
Hinds finished with two for 32 from his four overs that included the burly Azam Khan for 36 and Shepherd for 16 to can any chance of a Warriors fightback.
Amazon Warriors reached 42 without loss in the Power Play, and Ayub shared 53 for the first wicket with Odean Smith, and they were still trying to find the right tempo when they reached 69 for two at the halfway stage of their innings.
Smith was caught at deep mid-wicket off West Indies left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein for 15 in the seventh over, Hope was caught at long-on off Waqar in the ninth over, and the Warriors were still trying to gain momentum when Waqar bamboozled Ayub and bowled him in the 13th over.
Amazon Warriors were 90 for three, and Azam lifted the tempo in the second half with three fours and one six from 27 balls, but he needed to do it longer and needed help – and neither took place and the home team could only hope for the best on the flat pitch.
Once Knight Riders raced to 56 for one after the Power Play thanks to Walton and fellow opener Mark Deyal, the tone for the remainder of the chase had been set, and Pooran and Pollard came to the crease and made it certain for the visitors.
Pooran was not at his fluent best, but he made a workmanlike 33 and put on 51 for the second wicket with Walton before South African pacer Dwaine Pretorius got him caught at long-off in the 11th over.
Pollard restrained himself and got 23 and shared 66 for the third wicket with Walton before Pretorius bowled him with nine needed from the final 16 balls of the match.