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Amazon Warriors dominate CPL picks

Roneil Walcott Guyana Amazon Warriors skipper Shai Hope plays a shot against the Trinbago Knight Riders, on September 5, during their Republic Bank Caribbean Premier League T20 match, at the Queen’s Park Oval, St Clair. - Roger Jacob
Guyana Amazon Warriors skipper Shai Hope plays a shot against the Trinbago Knight Riders, on September 5, during their Republic Bank Caribbean Premier League T20 match, at the Queen’s Park Oval, St Clair. - Roger Jacob

Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) captain Kieron Pollard and top-order batsman Nicholas Pooran were named to the 2023 Republic Bank Caribbean Premier League (CPL) team of the tournament on Monday, with the XI being dominated by champions Guyana Amazon Warriors who had five selections.

The Warriors' dominance in Sunday's final against four-time champions TKR at Providence Stadium in Guyana didn't end on the field, as they were the cream of the crop in the presentation ceremony as well. The tournament's top-scorer, Shai Hope (481 runs), was named the player of the tournament, while his Amazon Warriors teammate Junior Sinclair was named the emerging player of the tournament after a string of excellent displays in the field. Hope was joined in the team of the tournament by the Warriors quartet of Saim Ayub, Romario Shepherd, captain Imran Tahir and the tournament's leading wicket-taker, Dwaine Pretorius.

The other four spots in the team of the tournament went to Jason Holder (Barbados Royals), Alzarri Joseph (St Lucia Kings) and the Jamaica Tallawahs pair of Imad Wasim and skipper Brandon King.

Hope, the West Indies one-day international (ODI) skipper, rattled off his first-ever T20 century when he scored a brilliant 106 off just 44 balls against Barbados Royals in Providence on September 17. In that encounter, Hope hit off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall for a whopping 32 runs in a single over to bring up the landmark.

The silky Ayub, 21, was just three runs shy of Hope on the scoring charts in his maiden CPL season. Though small in size, the Pakistan left-handed batsman packed a vicious punch with the bat and led the tournament with 28 sixes. Hope struck 24 sixes in the tournament. In Sunday's resounding nine-wicket win over TKR, Ayub surpassed Hope's tally of sixes as he cleared the boundary rope on five occasions and finished the game on 52 not out – his fourth fifty of the campaign.

The tournament's top-five run-scorers were rounded off by Wasim (313 runs), Pooran (291 runs) and King (288 runs). The aggressive Pooran, who also struck 20 sixes in the tournament, finished joint-third on the sixes leaderboard. Cornwall also struck 20 sixes in the tournament. Pollard was fifth among the competition's biggest hitters with 16 sixes in total.

Both Pooran and Cornwall gave CPL supporters innings to savour in 2023, blazing their way to dismissive hundreds which contributed largely to their tournament tally of 20 sixes.

On September 3 at Kensington Oval in Barbados, Cornwall, also known as "Jimbo," had arguably the most epic celebration of the tournament as he did a "bat-drop" after thumping an unbeaten 102 off 42 balls against the 2021 champs St Kitts and Nevis Patriots. Twelve of Cornwall's 20 tournament sixes came in that innings as he tore the cellar-placed team to shreds.

Three days later, Pooran had a similarly destructive showing at the Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad against the Royals, as he hit an unbeaten 102 off 53 balls with ten sixes – his second CPL ton. In that encounter, Pooran was involved in a bizarre run-out with Pollard which initially saw the former being adjudged out before a review by the third umpire.

The batsmen didn't have it all their own way in CPL 2023, as there were also some exceptional individual performances with the ball. Pretorius led the way with his 20-wicket haul, which was topped off by his fine spell of four for 26 in the final. The 44-year-old Tahir, who cut an emotional figure after his team's maiden CPL triumph, was next among the leading wicket-takers with 18 scalps.

Both Holder and Pakistan veteran seamer Mohammad Amir were next on the list with 16 wickets apiece. Tallawahs off-spinner Chris Green was the fifth-leading wicket-taker with 15 wickets.

TKR's Afghanistan spinner Waqar Salamkheil had the season's best figures with his debut spell of four for 14 versus the Royals on August 30. English opener Alex Hales recorded the season's highest score when he smashed 119 not out off 57 balls versus the Kings on September 17 at Providence.