Andre Russell smashed 62 off just 27 deliveries © Getty Images (File Photo)

By R Vishal

Aug 14, 2014

Andre Russell, the beefy all-rounder has been largely a fringe player for West Indies and for his Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise, Kolkata Knight Riders. The Caribbean Premier League (CPL), though has witnessed the blossoming of Russell from a bits and pieces cricketer, being a squad member to merely make up the numbers to a reliable finisher down the order. From a sure-shot winning position, Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel had no answer to Russell’s breathtaking onslaught which took Jamaica across the finish line with four wickets and two balls to spare.

In an enthralling contest at St. Kitts, the powerplay overs of both teams mirrored each other. Both teams lost three early wickets and and fate looked gloomy before one big partnership rescued the respective sides. Trinidad threw their wickets to the cunning David Bernard who took three wickets before veteran New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor‘s swashbuckling knock of 70, taking the Jamaica Tallawahs attack to all parts of the ground helped Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel recover from a slow start finish at a respectable total of 154 for six after Chris Gayle won the toss and elected to bowl first.

Taylor, with a neat sheet anchor’s role essayed by Darren Bravo repaired the damage and played with minimum risks earlier on in the innings. It was after the 11th over that Taylor went on rampage and dealt with a flurry of sixes and fours and Trinidad were looking set for a total in excess of 170 but Trinidad let advantage slip after losing Bravo and Taylor at a crucial juncture. Things started horribly for Jamaica too. Chris Gayle was given leg-before off a contentious call by the umpire and never looked like recovering from then. Nkrumah Bonner steadied the innings somewhat but with the required run rate crossing 10-an-over, Jamaica lost regular wickets and were staring at defeat at 76 for six in the 14th over. It was the Russell show from thereon.

Powerful hitting saw many towering sixes from the right-hander’s monstrous blade, so much so that the handle came off towards the end of the match. Rusty Theron gave good support and hit the winning runs with a thumping six off Dwayne Bravo over long off. Barring the clinical Suleiman Benn, Trinidad will reflect on their bowlers and their fielders’ erratic display as the reason for crashing out of CPL 2014. There were 15 extras and drop catches and midfields galore as Russell grew in stature as a finisher with yet another stunning display.

Brief scores:

Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel 155 for 6 in 20 Overs (Ross Taylor 70, Darren Bravo 33; David Bernard 3 for 19) lost to Jamaica Tallawahs 158 for 6 in 19.4 Overs (Nkrumah Bonner 39, Andre Russell 62*; Sulleiman Benn 3 for 27) by 4 wickets.

(R Vishal is a journalist and alumnus of the Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)