Cometh the hour, cometh the man capable of destructing the opposition alone.
In the all-important Qualifier 1 on Tuesday, Barbados Royals all-rounder Rahkeem Cornwall brought his A-game to the Providence Stadium in Guyana, helping his team seal a crushing victory over Guyana Amazon Warriors to march into the final of CPL 2022. His 54-ball 91 at the top first powered the Royals to a humongous total of 195/5, and the spinner followed it up with 2 wickets to deliver the final blow as the Warriors were bundled out on 108 in 17.4 overs.
Earlier at the toss, the Warriors, coming off a three-match winning streak on their home ground, opted to field first on a hard surface that looked good for batting. The Royals openers gave immediate proof, racking up 55 runs in the first 6 overs itself with as many as eight boundaries. The Warriors were all over the place too, and the Rahkeem-Mayers duo wasted no time in cashing in on their bowlers' freebies and reprieves in the field. Rahkeem in particular was explosive, smashing his first fifty of the season, after having missed a few games earlier in the tournament. With his 20-ball 26, Mayers played the perfect supporting role to his rampaging partner as he went on a prowl.
Mayers and Harry Tector fell in successive overs after the Powerplay, but then came another mighty swashbuckler who'd go on to stitch a game-changing partnership with Rahkeem. Azam Khan joined the party in Guyana and with his blistering 35-ball 52, ensured the team was well on their way to a massive total. Their third-wicket partnership of 90 runs came off just 51 balls, and it was enough to propel the Royals to the joint-highest first-innings total of the season.
Simmonds three-fer wreaks havoc
Chasing a steep target of 196, the Warriors needed to get off to a strong start. But their ambitions were thwarted early on, with Mayers cleaning up Rahmanullah Gurbaz in the opening over. Left-arm quick Ramon Simmonds then unleashed his pace and got rid of the in-form Shakib Al Hasan and Shai Hope in the same over. His double-wicket over opened the gates for another wicket, as Mujeeb Ur Rahman castled Chandrapaul Hemraj to leave the Warriors reeling at 32/4 by the end of the Powerplay.
Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul tried to revive the chase with a little partnership in the middle. But they had to face the wrath of Rahkeem once again, this time with the ball in his hand. The off-spinner tempted Paul with a short and wide delivery, and the batter gave in by hitting one straight to the long-off fielder. Rahkeem wasn't done. On the last ball of the same over, his stock carrom ball once again created a temptation and Romario Shepherd mistimed the slog, only to be caught by an incoming Mayers at short cover.
Skipper Hetmyer held fort at one end but regular strikes at the other meant that the game was quickly slipping away from the Warriors. Simmonds then came back to get his last wicket of the day, and it turned out to be the final nail in the coffin. Hetmyer fell in the 15th over for a well-made 37 but by then, the target was beyond his team's reach. A dramatic catch by Tector at the boundary ropes ended things as the Royals celebrated entering their fourth final in CPL history.