Fearsome Russell knocks Knight Riders down
Two days before he was to face an anti-doping hearing, Andre Russell was in fearsome form, which meant Jamaica Tallawahs finished on the right side of a thrilling game against Trinbago Knight Riders, not to mention on top of the points table as well.
The fans at Sabina Park had to watch their team twiddle their thumbs until the start of the 18th over. But 119 for 6 became 158 for 7 with Russell at the helm. He made sure to face eight of the final 12 balls of the innings and finished with 44 off 24 with five fours and three sixes.
Russell came out with a new bat, bright pink in colour drawing comparisons with the bright gold bat his captain Chris Gayle had used in the Big Bash League. The experiment didn’t last too long though, he asked for something a little less flashy two balls into his innings. The third disappeared for four.
Later, with ball in hand, and the match in the balance, Russell took two wickets in two balls in the 17th over. A haul of 4 for 23 put the final touches on a well-earned victory. The only thing that disturbed Russell during his match-winning performance was a soft landing spot at the bowling crease. That combined with a long-standing knee problem meant he had to undergo some treatment during the course of the match.
“I’m playing, but I’m still not a 100%,” Russell said “But, everything in the game is tough. The wicket is tough, the ball, the pitch, bat everything, so you the player have to be tough. A little niggle is not going to keep me out.
“As soon as I get back to the dressing room, I’m going to be back on the massage bed, doing whatever I have to do, ice bath, make sure I recover and recovery is very important so as much as I’d like to go out and have a drink with the lads, I’d have to stay in my room and do what I have to do.”
A required rate just under eight meant neither team had a clear edge at the start of the chase, which progressed with both sides fighting quite hard to earn that upper hand. Tallawahs had Knight Riders at 60 for 4 in 10 overs, but Hashim Amla’s solidity and Denesh Ramdin’s enterprise – he walloped Shakib Al Hasan for two sixes and a four in the 14th over – reduced the equation to 58 off 36 with captain Dwayne Bravo still to bat.
However, Amla fell in the next over, Steyn knocked Bravo over one ball after the batsman had smacked him for a four and a six in the 16th, Russell took over in the 17th and then it was done.
Kevon Cooper dismissing Gayle for a nine-ball duck, and picking up two wickets in the 13th over including that of Kumar Sangakkara, became a footnote. So did a miserly spell from Sunil Narine.
All that remained was the Tallahwahs’ joy, which peaked when Sangakkara, 38 years old and long retired from international cricket, leapt full length to his right to claim a superb low catch in that eventful 17th over from Russell. By that point it was clear who had claimed the upper hand, and the Tallawahs’ joy was to last long into the night. (ESPNCricinfo)
Photo caption: Andre Russell smashed 44 off 24 balls and picked up 4 for 23 (CPL/Sportsfile)