Russell stars on comeback as West Indies take T20I series lead


Andre Russell marked his return to international cricket with a throwback all-round performance, as West Indies drew first blood in their five-match T20I series against England in Barbados.

Despite a flying start from England in the Powerplay, courtesy of Phil Salt’s 40 from 20 balls, Russell’s canny three-wicket display put the brakes on their attacking intent, before he and Rovman Powell pounded their side past a victory target of 172 with a typically hard-hitting seventh-wicket stand of 49 in 21 balls.

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Victory was duly sealed by Russell’s powerful cut for four off Sam Curran at the start of the 19th over, as West Indies romped to the highest run-chase in T20Is in Barbados.

Despite the defeat, there were some encouraging signs for England – particularly the successful pairing of Adil Rashid and his heir apparent, Rehan Ahmed, who claimed five wickets between them. And yet, in the wake of last week’s ODI series loss, it was another setback in their bid to re-establish their white-ball aura ahead of next year’s T20 World Cup defence.

Andre Russell pulled things back with the ball after England threatened a big score (Photo: Getty Images)

Windies hit the roof in run-chase

Chasing 172, West Indies charged out of the starting blocks, with Brandon King mashing 16 runs off Sam Curran’s opening over, including two leg-side pick-ups for six, before Kyle Mayers launched two vast hits onto the roof of the stand at deep midwicket – the first off Will Jacks, and the second an astonishing 103-metre dispatching of a Tymal Mills short ball.

Ben Duckett extracted King with a brilliant grab at point to hand Chris Woakes a wicket with his fourth ball, but the in-form Shai Hope continued West Indies’ surge by bopping a Woakes slower ball over long-on for the fifth six in as many overs.

Their Powerplay total of 59-1 wasn’t quite a match for England’s 77 for 0 – the third-highest of their T20I history – but given how comprehensively that performance had fallen away, it seemed more than enough to set up the chase.

Kyle Mayers gave West Indies a rollicking start (Photo: Getty Images)

Master and apprentice

With his precocious combination of penetration and control, Rehan had been England’s outstanding bowler in last week’s ODI series, and so his inclusion for this match was entirely on merit, in spite of the presence of the returning Adil Rashid.

Rehan’s first over of the night, however, was not an auspicious one. With the ball seemingly tough to grip in the mounting dew, he was spanked for three sixes – two more for Mayers as he twice picked the googly, and a second for Hope, who stepped into a length ball to drill it over long-off.

Enter Rashid, to show immediately how it should be done. Prior to the match, he’d been presented with a special cap to mark his 100th T20I, and now he struck with his first ball of the night, as Mayers misread the slider out of the front of the hand, and was rushed into a pull to Jacks at long-on.

Quite apart from his talent, however, Rehan’s temperament is every bit as much of an asset. His return to the attack was a triumph of character, as Nicholas Pooran lobbed an attempted pull back down the pitch to be sent on his way for 13 as Rehan leapt high to his left to intercept.

He conceded just two runs in the over too, which doubtless helped Rashid to spring the trap on Shimron Hetmyer in his next over, as Duckett at deep midwicket reached high to intercept a flat slog across the line. It was Rashid’s 100th T20I wicket, the first England bowler and the tenth overall to reach the mark.

Phil Salt and Jos Buttler gave England a flying start (Photo: Getty Images)

Rain can’t derail West Indies

A half-hour rain delay appeared to have arrived at an opportune moment for West Indies – they led by six runs on DLS at the break, whereupon Hope put a further dent into Rehan’s figures with an emphatic sweep for six. But once again, Rehan’s response was wise beyond his years.

He offered Hope another tempter, but slid his line a fraction wider, and Brook at wide long-on did the rest. In came a slip to greet the new man, and Romario Shepherd duly spooned the biggest leg-break of Rehan’s spell straight into his hands.

Russell and Powell, however, weren’t about to be fazed by an asking-rate pushing 10 an over. Powell took a chunk out of that requirement with back-to-back sixes off Liam Livingstone, before Russell joined the onslaught with a top-edged pull off Mills that sailed over fine leg.

Rashid’s final over was make-or-break for England, but Russell picked the googly to hoist him high over deep midwicket, and the end came quickly. (ESPNcricinfo)

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