Shoaib Malik has perfect evening as Amazon Warriors remain unbeaten

Guyana Amazon Warriors 218 for 6 (Malik 67*, King 59, Russell 2-35) beat Jamaica Tallawahs 137 (Russell 40, Phillips 40, Keemo 3-34, Tahir 2-21) by 81 runs

Shoaib Malik had a stellar all-round evening. He made an unbeaten 37-ball 67 to lift his team to 218. Made a bold move to bowl legspin at Chris Gayle early on, and nine straight overs of spin at Jamaica Tallawahs to strangle them before Andre Russell could come in. He closed the day with crucial catches, smart changes of bowling, and a massive 81-run win. It was Guyana Amazon Warriors’ fifth straight win, and they remain unbeaten this season.

A fifty from Brandon King, Shimron Hetmyer’s 44, and Imran Tahir’s two wickets were the other key performances for Amazon Warriors. Tallawahs are now in last place with only one win in six matches.

Pristine Hetmyer, pesky Smith

Jade Dernbach got opener Chandrapaul Hemraj with his first ball, but was taken to the cleaners by Shimron Hetmyer after Amazon Warriors were put in. Dernbach was taken for four boundaries in his second over, starting with a lovely front-foot pull past mid-on, and some deft touches to find the boundaries at point and fine leg. At the other end, Brandon King was far from comfortable at the other end, swishing and swaying away from his body outside off with little success. At one point he was 9 off 15. Tallawahs continued to be generally on the shorter side though and Hetmyer cashed in with plenty of stylish front foot pulls.

Dwayne Smith’s wobbly seaming deliveries bothered King even more, coming in and usually shaping away off the pitch as he batsman kept pushing away at it. Smith snuck past Hetmyer’s inside edge too, dismissing him for 44 after clipping the top of off stump. In his first three overs, he went for only 20 and took a wicket.

But some more short bowling from Zahir Khan and the others kept even King in the hunt For every few short balls, he managed to keep finding the boundaries. A fair percentage of those came off edges, but he signed off against Smith by ruining his figures – after four dot balls in his final over, he was hit for two sixes as King brought up his fifty. When he got out, Amazon Warriors had 117 in the 13th over.

Malik applies the finish

Shoaib Malik was also fed his share of short balls, but the Amazon Warriors captain sparsely needed any help on the night. He was deft, using angles to find the third man boundary off the back foot, the point boundary off the front foot, and a compulsive eye for the extra cover fence as well. Scattered into this mix was one emphatic slog onto the roof against Ramaal Lewis and a drill over long-off as well. Shane Rutherford chipped in an effective 6-ball 15 on the way as Malik hauled the team to 218 with his unbeaten 67, helped along greatly by the home team who dropped him twice, and dropped four catches overall.

The spin gamble works

Malik’s great evening didn’t stop with his batting innings. In the defence, his strategy to get his spinners’ overs out of the way early proved to be decisive. It was Chris Green, the offspinner, who took the new ball as usual, but from the other end came Imran Tahir. Gayle smoked a generous full toss over midwicket from him first ball, but Tahir followed with one that held its line and had Gayle caught off the leading edge at short third man. It was damage that grew exponentially from there on.

Legspinner Qais Ahmed came on for the third over, although with a slew of loose deliveries to hand them Tallawahs some respite. But Tahir got three overs at a stretch and with the switching off Green and Qais, Tallawahs couldn’t get off to a brisk start. Walton stepped out and sliced a Tahir full toss to extra cover, Javelle Glen top-edged to Malik at extra cover off Green, and even Qais had redemption – George Worker swatting a full toss straight to long-on.

Malik bowled eight straight overs of spin to have Tallawahs at 51 for 4, with the required rate rapidly climbing, and theoretically leaving little in terms of a release for Andre Russell.

Getting past Russell

Still, Russell took off straightaway. In the ninth over, it was still spin, with Green bowling around the wicket. Russell expertly chopped his first ball to the point boundary, got a six next ball at long-on off a complete mis-hit, and finished the over 18 off 5 with a smart chop over point.

In five balls, the impact seemed to have been made. Keemo Paul came on for the first over of pace in the 10th over, and his nervous slower balls kept being dug in short. Two of them were dismissed over midwicket back-to-back by Russell, and even Glen Phillips helped himself to one over square leg as 21 came off the over.

Tahir dropped a tough return catch of Russell next over, and Russell seemed had settled in nicely on 38 off 16 when Odean Smith was first introduced in the 13th over.

It was Malik’s last gamble on the night, effectively handing Odean the responsibility of bowling four straight overs into the 19th. And it was a gamble that worked too. Immediately, Odean bowled a short one wide outside off and Russell’s attempted was pouched at extra cover. It was Malik who completed the catch. And, really, the match.

In 12 balls, Tallawahs lost five wickets to fall from 111 for 4 to 120 for 9. Three of those wickets came from one Keemo over, and Malik even managed to add a run-out to his bag.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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