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Tallawahs can win it all, says Russell

Published:Saturday | June 20, 2015 | 12:00 AMLeighton Levy
Jamaica Tallawahs allrounder Andre Russell greeting young cricketers at St Jago High during a recent St Catherine school tour by the local Caribbean Premier League franchise.

Big-hitting all-rounder AndrÈ Russell believes the Jamaica Tallawahs have what it takes to get to the finals of the 2015 CPL T20 competition, and eventually go on to win the title.

"The team has what it takes to get to the finals, and, once we get there, we should win," said the powerful Jamaican whose side, the Chris Gayle XI (196-3) won a practice match over Nikita Miller's XI (171-6) at Sabina Park on Thursday.

The Tallawahs struggled for runs last season before being eliminated in the semi-finals by eventual champions, Barbados Tridents. However, this season, the talents of Russell, the MVP of the Indian Premier League, and the in-form Chris Gayle, who scored a 48-ball 103 on Thursday, will be augmented by the inclusion of Australian batsman Chris Linn and Sri Lankan veteran Mahela Jayewardene.

Meanwhile, the bowling has been strengthened by the inclusion of the economical Khrismar Santokie. On paper, the 2013 champions look ready to reclaim the title they lost last year to the Tridents, who they face in their opener on June 23.

balanced team

"I think we have a very balanced team, and that is one of the best things you can have going into a tournament," said Russell, who blasted 47 off just 24 balls with five fours and three sixes during a practice match. "Chris Linn obviously, he smashes some big ones; (Daniel) Vettori, he is a very consistent guy who can bowl and can bat and can contribute something down the order. We have Santokie, a good guy to bowl with the new ball and also in the last couple of overs."

Players like South Africa's Rusty Theron and Jermaine Blackwood will also prove to be useful role players to him, Gayle and Jayawardene. The team, he said, has players who can both bat and bowl, and run around in the field and save runs, which is what makes it so balanced.

"I don't see any weak links in our team," he said. "We have batting from one to 11 because even Jerome Taylor, he can hold his bat. These are the things that take the pressure off the guys at the top who want to go out there and express themselves because there are guys who can fill the gap at the end."