By: Chinmay Vaidya
For 11 matches, Guyana Amazon Warriors were perfect. They had marched through the Caribbean Premier League group stage with an undefeated record and put away the Barbados Tridents in Qualifier 1. The Warriors would face the Tridents in the final in what would be the fourth matchup between the teams this year.
In the previous three matches, Guyana won by an average of 29.6 runs. This included a 12-run D/L win. The Warriors never had to chase down a score against the Tridents until the final match. In fact, Guyana only had to chase down a target four times during the entire season. Of those four chases, only two targets were above 150. Only one was above 160. The Warriors were a good batting unit, but it wasn't their strength. Barbados leveraged this minor advantage in the final.
Imran Tahir, Chris Green and Romario Shepherd were the reason for Guyana's undefeated run. The trio combined for 42 wickets, making them three of the top seven wicket takers in the league. The average economy rate for those three bowlers: 6.69. It was incredibly difficult to score off these bowlers for Guyana's opposition, translating to wickets for the Warriors on a regular basis.
Barbados flipped the script in the final. The Tridents maneuvered their way around Tahir, Green and Shepherd. Barbados averaged 7.72 runs per over for these bowlers across 11 overs, which is slightly better than the rest of the league throughout the competition. It was the rest of Guyana's attack that paid the price for this; Barbados averaged 8.77 runs per over for the other nine overs. Jonathan Carter and Ashley Nurse finished the innings with a bang, setting a tough target of 172 for Guyana. Keep in mind the Warriors hadn't hunted down a target this high during the entire league season. The highest successful chase in CPL final history was 148. The pressure was truly on.
Guyana's undefeated season would be the first across the four established T20 leagues in the world (IPL, BBL PSL and CPL). The Melbourne Stars went 8-0 in the league stage of the 2013-14 Big Bash League, but promptly flamed out in the semifinal against Hobart. This would truly be a historic moment for Guyana.
Barbados beat Guyana at its own game with a superb bowling performance from Matt Gurney, Ashley Nurse and Raymon Reifer. The trio combined for eight wickets in 12 overs, yielding only 65 runs. Tahir, Green and Shepherd were outdone by Barbados' attack. Brandon King put on a valiant fight with 43 from 33 but once he got out, things looked bleak for Guyana.
The CPL 2019 final showed how truly difficult perfection is in T20 leagues. When the sport gets condensed to 20 overs instead of 50, it puts teams on a more level playing field. A player can impact the match so heavily once you shorten the game. For some teams, it gives them less of a window to mess up. For others, it gives them less time to assert their dominance. The fact that Guyana was one win away from perfection shouldn't be overlooked.
The Warriors were the best team in CPL 2019; they just weren't the best team in the game that mattered most. This is what draws fans to domestic T20 leagues and sports in general. At the end of the day, you have to win the match that matters. Barbados did, and prevented history for at least one more season.