Russell to the rescue - All-rounder powers Ja past T&T Red Steel
Basseterre, St Kitts:
A brilliant late order batting performance from André Russell secured victory for the Jamaica Tallawahs in the first play-off in this year's Limacol Caribbean Premier League.
It looked as if the Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel had done enough to win this game, but Russell's arrival at the crease changed all of that. The Tallawahs were five wickets down and needing 12 runs an over when Russell came in to bat. Thanks to his efforts, the Jamaicans won the game with two balls to spare.
A fantastic innings from Ross Taylor meant that the Red Steel had a decent total, but with Samuel Badree ruled out with injury, they would have to defend it without their best bowler. Taylor was well supported by Darren Bravo, and they would have won easily if it had not been for the Russell fireworks.
The Red Steel innings began slowly as three wickets fell inside the Powerplay, leaving them struggling for momentum. Kevin O'Brien was the first man to go, edging the ball to first slip. The Red Steel took a gamble with Nasir Jamshed, who had not played since the Trinidad and Tobago side's second match. He replaced Javon Searles, but the change did not work as the Pakistani player pulled a ball from David Bernard into the hands of Nkrumah Bonner on the square leg boundary. Just three balls later, Evin Lewis repeated the trick, departing in exactly the same fashion as his teammate.
Taylor and Bravo went about steadying the ship, and they took the score from 36 to 146. The partnership could have been broken with the score on 87 when Taylor skied a ball from Russell, but Nikita Miller and Bernard collided as both went to take the catch. Neither man was hurt, but the chance was gone.
Taylor made the most of his luck as he went on to score 70 runs from just 44 balls in a partnership of over 100 runs with the younger Bravo brother.
When Taylor fell slogging into the legside, it slowed things down again for the Red Steel. Darren Bravo went in the same over to leave two new batsmen at the crease for the last seven balls of the innings.
A middling score meant that the Red Steel bowlers would have their work cut out, especially with Badree missing. They got off to the best possible start when Chris Gayle was dismissed lbw for just a single by Shannon Gabriel. The replays showed Gayle was unlucky to go as the ball had pitched outside leg stump.
The rate continued to rise as the Tallawahs also lost early wickets. After Gayle had gone, the Jamaicans lost the wickets of Chadwick Walton and Adam Voges, both men making single figures. As in the last match, Bonner was the only member of the top order who found a way to make a score of any substance. The man who was picking up the other end was Sulieman Benn. He mixed his pace well and his three wickets were well deserved.
Bonner was run out for 39 and the game looked like it was over, but Russell certainly thought otherwise. Russell went to his 50 with a shot that broke his bat, off just 22 deliveries.
In combination with Rusty Theron, he refused to give up, finishing on 62 not out. It was Theron who hit the winning runs, a flat six over extra cover that saw his side through to the second play-off game today against the Guyana Amazon Warriors