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CPL 2020 Semi-Final 2: Guyana Amazon Warriors vs St Lucia Zouks (GUY vs SLZ) Game Plan: Tackling spinners and powerplay match-ups

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CPL 2020 has sparked some interesting T20 match-ups. Here, we look at the key game plans and tactical strategies that could play a role in the Guyana Amazon Warriors vs St Lucia Zouks – Semi-final 2 – game in CPL 2020.

CPL 2020 Semi-final 2 – Guyana Amazon Warriors vs St Lucia Zouks (GUY vs SLZ) Game Plan 1

The Imran Tahir threat

The St Lucia Zouks have not been the best batting side of the tournament, but they have regularly found someone to deliver with the bat. Andre Fletcher, Roston Chase and Mohammad Nabi are all in the top-20 run scorers of the season, and Rahkeem Cornwall has given quick starts while Najibullah Zadran has also chipped in from time to time.

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Most of these players have a similar weakness – leg-spin. Nabi, Zadran, Cornwall and Mark Deyal have all been dismissed by right-arm wrist-spin three times apiece this season. In their opposition ranks, Imran Tahir, the current most experienced wrist-spinner in the world, would be licking his lips at the prospect of bowling to the side which has struggled against leg-spin the most. The Guyana Amazon Warriors also have the lesser known Kissoondath Magram in their ranks, another wrist-spinner who adds an element of mystery to their bowling attack.

 

Andre Fletcher’s average of 34 against leg-spin is deceptive, as he has faced a mere 23 balls of the bowling this entire tournament, despite being a right-hander. Bowling teams have opted to go with a combination of right-arm pace and off-break against him; he averages 8.6 and 10 against them, respectively. However, in the three seasons preceding this CPL, he averaged just 13 runs per wicket against leg-spin, with Shadab Khan (3 dismissals), Tahir (2) and Adam Zampa (1) all enjoying success against him.

As the graphic above shows, Roston Chase is St Lucia’s best bet against leg-spin.  He has scored 49 runs and has been dismissed only once against the bowling type this year. Although he scores at just 5.2 runs per over, he is vital for the Zouks to ensure they don’t gift too many wickets to the leggie. The key for the Zouks will be to play out Tahir’s four overs, and Roston Chase will have a part to play in that.

Imran Tahir’s four overs are gold dust, and could be the game-changer for either team. For the Amazon Warriors, it is important he is used sparingly and for the Zouks it is critical to play him out.

CPL 2020 Semi-final 2 – Guyana Amazon Warriors vs St Lucia Zouks (GUY vs SLZ) Game Plan 2

Guyana’s Left-Handers against Zouks offies

Guyana Amazon Warriors’ batting had been under the spotlight mid-way through the league stage. They had struggled against spin, and the young core weren’t able to find their form with the bat, despite Shimron Hetmyer’s attractive fifties at the start. In the last four matches however, the batsmen have really upped their game, with Nicholas Pooran’s stunning century at Queen’s Park, followed by fifties by Brandon King and Shimron Hetmyer in consecutive matches.

However, the left-hand heavy batting lineup will have their work cut out for them against the off-spin army of St Lucia Zouks. Sherfane Rutherford might be left out after a horrid season with the bat (39 runs at an average of 5.6) but even without him, Guyana still have three left-handers in their top five – Chandrapaul Hemraj, Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran – to go with Brandon King who has his own issues against off-spin.

The likes of Hemraj, Hetmyer and Pooran all have interesting numbers against off-break. From 2017 to 2019, Pooran and Hetmyer averaged 40+ while Hemraj had accumulated 83 runs without being dismissed. This season however, with off-spinners ruling the roost, they average 29, 16 and 25, respectively. Given that the coaches of both teams are very mindful of matchups, it will be interesting to see how things pan out in this encounter.

With Mohammad Nabi, Roston Chase and the chinaman Zahir Khan in the Zouks’ squad, this battle between Guyana’s LHBs and St Lucia’s offies (and chinaman) is one that could play a big part in the outcome of the match.

CPL 2020 Semi-final 2 – Guyana Amazon Warriors vs St Lucia Zouks (GUY vs SLZ) Game Plan 3

Powerplay Strategies

Guyana Amazon Warriors have always been a spin-heavy team. In 2019, their spin-quartet of Imran Tahir, Chris Green, Qais Ahmed and Shoaib Malik were instrumental in their eleven-match winning streak. This year once again, they have established one of the strongest spin attacks with Tahir and Green along with 1-2 of Ashmead Nedd, Kevin Sinclair and K Magram, depending on the favourable matchups. In fact, spinners have bowled 76% of their Powerplay overs this season compared to just 56% for the Zouks.

 

St Lucia Zouks, on the other hand, have also done well in the Powerplay, albeit with a different strategy. Scott Kuggeleijn and Mohammad Nabi have bowled 61% of their Powerplay overs, and accounted for 71% of Zouks’ wickets as well. Guyana and St Lucia have been the most efficient at taking wickets in the Powerplay as well this season, with their bowlers picking up a wicket every 15 and 18 balls, respectively.

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In a high-stakes game, the team that bowls better in the Powerplay could take the advantage early on. In fact, the chances of winning in T20 cricket are more than 80% if the bowling team takes 3 wickets upfront. For two teams who have strangled the opposition with the new ball, this phase could decide the outcome of the all-important semi-final fixture.