Guyana Amazon Warriors (nine points) moved to the top of the Republic Bank Caribbean Premier League (CPL) table on Tuesday night, as they got an impressive six-wicket win with five balls to spare versus Trinbago Knight Riders at the Queen's Park Oval in St Clair, Trinidad.
The Warriors won the toss and inserted the four-time champs TKR, with the hosts making a competitive score of 172 for eight in their 20 overs.
keal Hosein top-scored with 44 not out off 35 balls, while Lorcan Tucker contributed 38 off 25 balls and skipper Kieron Pollard thrilled with a cameo of 25 off just 12 balls.
Allrounder Odean Smith led the Warriors attack with figures of three for 31, while captain Imran Tahir was at his miserly best and returned figures of one for 19 from his four overs.
The Warriors were up to the task in the chase though, and they got their fourth straight win thanks largely to a 93-run second-wicket partnership between Pakistani opener Saim Ayub (62 off 43 balls) and the elegant Shai Hope (51 off 49 balls).
The pair came together with the score on 18 for one in the third over after Chandrapaul Hemraj (ten) was dismissed by Andre Russell.
At the end of their partnership, the Warriors were in a position of strength on 111 for two at the end of the 14th over, needing 62 runs off the last six overs with eight wickets in hand.
Ayub looked silky against both the seam and spin of the TKR bowlers, hitting four boundaries and four sixes in his innings as he struck his eighth T20 fifty.
The 21-year-old Ayub, who made his T20 international debut vs Afghanistan in March, got to his fifty off 38 balls, playing an array of pulls and flicks much to the dismay of the Oval crowd. Ayub was dropped on 52 by Nicholas Pooran off Waqar Salamkheil's bowling in the 13th over.
Ayub would add ten more runs to his tally before he was dismissed by Andre Russell in the subsequent over as he attempted a scoop shot.
Hope picked up where Ayub left though, and he also brought up his eighth T20 fifty in fine style, hitting three fours and three sixes in his innings. With the Warriors needing 51 runs off the last five overs, Hope took on the threat of the Afghan spinner Salamkheil, hitting him for two sixes in the over to reduce the arrears to 35 off the last 24 balls.
Hope was dismissed by Ali Khan (two for 30) in the 17th over with the Warriors on 144 for three. The Warriors needed 29 runs off 20 balls at that stage, and Azam Khan (26 not out off 15 balls) and Shimron Hetmyer (13 runs off seven balls) played cameos in a 25-run stand to help their team over the line.
TKR's mystery spinner Sunil Narine conceded 29 runs in his four-over spell and was struck for two fours and a six in his final over - the 18th of the chase.
Ali took the wicket of Hetmyer to send the Warriors into the final over needing four runs to win.
Azam ensured that the Warriors would not slip up on this occasion though, as he struck a majestic straight six of Rusell's bowling at the start of the last over to guarantee a six-wicket win for GAW with five balls to spare.
Earlier, TKR started their innings in a circumspect manner, as they lost the left-handed pair of Mark Deyal (one) and Nicholas Pooran (18 off 15 balls) in the power play, as they were reduced to 47 for two after six overs.
Pooran received a barrage of short bowling in his 32-run partnership with Martin Guptill (15) and he eventually fell to a brilliant flying catch by wicket-keeper Azam Khan off Keemo Paul's bowling in the fifth over.
Guptill followed in the ninth over, as he was caught at long-on off the miserly Imran Tahir, who had figures of one for 19 in his four-over spell
Hosein, who came in to bat at number five, ahead of both Pollard and the swashbuckling Russell, started slowly but played the perfect hand for the four-time champs in the end.
The 30-year-old left-hander achieved his highest CPL score and shared in a handy partnership with Tucker, Russell (14 off seven balls) and Pollard to steady the TKR ship.
Hosein and Tucker navigated Tahir's tricky spell and put on 39 runs for the fourth wicket before a magnificent direct hit from the fine leg boundary by Chandrapaul Hemraj found him short of his ground.
Hosein and Ruseel then put on 24 runs for the fifth wicket, before Russell was given out on review after chasing a wide delivery by Odean Smith. The burly Smith led the Warriors bowling with figures of three for 31.
Pollard got a rapturous reception from the packed Oval crowd as he strode to the middle, and the TKR skipper looked to be in a no-nonsense mood, crashing three fours and the solitary six in his brief innings. That lone Pollard six was a gigantic 108m hit which cleared the long-on boundary and landed atop the Learie Constantine Stand.
The Pollard show and his 34-run partnership with Hosein were superbly ended in the penultimate over, as Gudakesh Motie sped off the mid-wicket boundary and effected a direct hit with a one-hand pick-up and release.
The Pollard dismissal came as a surprise to TKR supporters, but in Hosein, TKR found a worthy finisher. Hosein helped TKR muster 56 runs off the last five overs, and he hit two fours and three towering sixes in his knock.
The left-hander was particularly savage on the expensive Dwaine Pretorius (none for 48), hitting him for consecutive sixes in the 13th over.
In the end, Hosein's efforts weren't enough as the Warriors got an impressive win with their big chase.
TKR will play Barbados Royals from 7 pm today at the same Oval venue.