In what turned out to be a bittersweet ending, table-toppers Barbados Royals ended up on the losing side as Jamaica Tallawahs went on to win their third CPL title in Guyana on Friday night. Azam Khan's consecutive half-century coupled with contributions from the top order propelled the Royals to a challenging total of 161/7 in their 20 overs. But a game-changing partnership between Brandon King and Shamarh Brooks powered Jamaica Tallawahs to a strong finish as they wrapped up the chase in 16.1 overs.
Earlier, skipper Kyle Mayers won the toss and opted to put runs on the board on a pitch that looked favourable for batting, as a cool breeze enveloped the Providence Stadium for this late evening contest. The Royals openers got off to their usual solid start in the Powerplay, adding 63 runs before Rahkeem Cornwall fell to Fabian Allen for a quickfire 21-ball 36. Mayers departed soon after, but Azam Khan and Jason Holder cautiously held fort at their respective ends to keep the scoreboard ticking, even if it came at the cost of dipping run rates. By the 15th-over mark, the Royals were 117/3, having just lost Holder to Imad Wasim. It was then that the big-hitting Azam took charge and swung some momentum in his team's favour with sixes in back-to-back overs. And despite losing wickets at regular intervals, Azam, with some help from the lower middle order, helped the team total go past 150. With three wickets each in their bag, Fabian Allen and Nicholson Gordon were the pick of the Tallawahs bowlers.
Chasing a competitive target of 162, the Tallawahs lost opener Kennar Lewis on the fourth ball of the innings, as Mayers rattled his timber to send him packing for a first-ball duck. It was just the start the Royals needed, but one that their opponent didn't. However, Brandon King took it upon himself to see his team through all the way till the end. His slow start in the Powerplay was followed by a rampage alongside partner Shamarh Brooks, as the duo broke the shackles to put the pressure back on the Royals bowlers. The 11th over saw Brooks picking out the fielder at deep square leg, bringing an end to his fine 33-ball 47. But by then, the Tallawahs had already achieved half of their target and still had 8 wickets in hand. In walked captain Rovman Powell, playing anchor to an on-song King who he smashed an unbeaten 50-ball 83 with as many as 15 boundaries to his name. Fittingly for his team, the winning runs came off King's willow in the 17th over, bringing the curtains down on an eventful finale and season.
For a team like Barbados Royals who dominated proceedings right from the league stage all the way till the playoffs of CPL 2022, a result like this is a tough pill to swallow. But credit where it's due, Jamaica Tallawahs were the better team on the night, with strong performances across departments that kept the Royals at bay for the most part of the final. The result may not be the most ideal, but 9 wins in 12 games, a solid core of match-winners, a bunch of emerging talent in the Caribbean, the squad's tremendous self-belief and the unwavering love and support of their fans are just some of the many positives this team will take away from the season, only to bounce back harder, stronger and better!