Played twelve and won twelve! The Amazon Warriors have dominated the 2019 Caribbean Premier League so far. They won all ten matches in the group stage and on Sunday night, they blew away the Tridents by 30 runs to storm into this Saturday’s final.
It will be the Guyana based franchise’s fifth final in the competition’s seventh season, having only failed to make the showpiece event in 2015 and 2017. However, while their consistency of making the last match is admirable, their performances in said match has always left a lot to be desired.
In all four finals they have so far contested, they have not only lost, but were also dominated by the opposition. Losses to the Tallawahs in 2013 and 2016 by seven and nine wickets respectively and to the Knight Riders last year by eight wickets is not pretty reading for the team currently coached by Johan Botha.
Listed below are some important notes to their team as they prepare for the final at the Brian Lara stadium in Tarouba.
Coach: Johan Botha.
The former South African international has vast experience both in the Caribbean and in this format of the game. He played for the now defunct Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel back in 2015 and in addition, has represented teams in Australia, England and India, as well as back home. He was appointed to the post in 2018 before even officially retiring and at just 37-years old, he is currently the youngest person on the coaching benches in the tournament. He has managed to impart his vast array of knowledge on the team, both from a tactical stand point and has improved the mentality of the team as well. Finals are often won, not necessarily by the most talented team, but the one that prepares best and is fully focused and “switched on” mentally. Having carried them to the final last year, he will be hoping to go one better this time around.
In truth and in fact this Amazon Warriors squad has such a strength in depth that just about everyone has made a significant contribution to getting them to the final.
1. Shoaib Malik:
Photo Courtesy: Stabroek News
The Pakistani all-rounder has had a heavy influence on this squad in several different capacities. Apart from being the captain, he bats at number four and usually comes on at either second or third change in the bowling line-up. He normally shows up on the big occasions, and that was evident again in the first Qualifier, as he made a quick-fire 32 of 19 deliveries in addition to taking the key wicket of Shakib Al Hasan while the Tridents were at the crease and implemented the plans on the field tactically, almost to a tee.
Like his captain, the Jamaican came good in the knock-out tie as he made a destructive 132 from just 72 balls with ten fours and eleven, yes eleven sixes to completely take apart the Trident attack! He currently run tally stands on 453 runs for the tournament and he will also need to get his team off to a flyer from the top of the order in the final.
The Pakistani-born former South African player has played in eight of the eleven matches for his team, and yet still has managed to garner a phenomenal tournament so far. He has 15 scalps at the CPL’s best bowling average and economy rate at 11.53 and 5.58 respectively. In every one of those eight games Tahir has played, his high energy and enthusiasm has been infectious on his squad, including the last game, when he dismissed both openers.
Overcoming previous losses:
Psychology plays an important role in sport, whether a team or player is doing well or poorly and the Amazon Warriors will have to muster up all their mental fortitude on Saturday night if they are to overcome the demons of previous last game defeats. Reaching five finals in just seven editions of any tournament, in any sport and in any part of the world deserves a massive amount of credit but losing all of those finals will have had taken it’s toll on the franchise.The coaching staff, the captain and the players themselves will have to forget about the past and only concentrate on this upcoming showdown.On a positive note, given the ever changing nature of the franchised based T20 league, none of the players on the current team have been involved in all the final losses so the players will go in with a fresh start.
Amazon Warriors are lying in wait for the final and whoever they face, they know they will have to play almost perfectly to overcome their opponents. After a season of achieving a perfect record so far, and I stress so far, can they after so much heartbreak finally lift the trophy?