Russell's heroics the perfect boost for Tallawahs, says Richardson

Senior staff reporter

Monday, August 13, 2018

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Jamaica Tallawahs Team Manager Andrew Richardson says Friday's extraordinary all-round performance from skipper Andre Russell is the perfect boost to start their 2018 Hero Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 (CPL T20) campaign.

First, the 30-year-old pace bowler took a hat-trick in the final over of Trinbago Knight Riders' breathtaking innings of 223-6, to end with 3-38.

Then, batting at number seven, he recovered from being dropped first ball by Ali Khan to blitz a remarkable 49-ball 121 not out; propelled the Tallawahs to a CPL record 225-6 at Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad and Tobago. The unlikely four-wicket victory for the two-time CPL champions was wrapped up with three balls to spare.

For title-holders Knight Riders and their home fans, it was a toxic cocktail of exquisite ball-striking, raw power, and calculated bowler targeting that plunged them into abject misery.

The Knight Riders' pacer Khan was extremely good early on and finished with 3-24, but captain Dwayne Bravo went for 0-59 as Russell wielded his mighty blade.

“I thought last [Friday] night was fantastic; [it] was epic. It is just the kind of kick-start you want to the tournament,” Richardson told the Jamaica Observer after the squad's return to Jamaica on Saturday ahead of home matches versus St Lucia Stars and St Kitts and Nevis Patriots tomorrow and Wednesday, respectively.

Russell's controlled batting carnage on Friday was all the more astounding because when he stepped to the middle in the seventh over, his side appeared down and out at 41-5.

On an evening in which the Knight Riders' Colin Munro (61), Brendon McCullum (56) and Chris Lynn (46) were electric with the bat, Russell's fireworks were profoundly more sensational.

Balls flew over the boundary ropes at bullet speed — two sailed out of the ground — and records tumbled in a heap.

He shot to a century off 40 balls to equal the CPL record. He crunched 13 sixes and six fours — the former beating the previous CPL number of 11.

By the time Russell's final six won the match, his second career T20 hundred was hailed as one of the best in T20 history.

For the first time in its six-year history, CPL T20 was witnessing a player grabbing a hat-trick and notching a century during the same game.

And only once before in any T20 cricket has a player achieved the feat — that was Joe Denly for Kent against Surrey at The Oval last month.

“What Andre did was simply spectacular; it's the kind of thing that happens once in so many years. It's the first time someone has got a hat-trick and scored a hundred in the same CPL game.

“He just was in the zone to come out when we were at 41-5, and he really took the team on his back,” said Richardson, a former Jamaica fast bowler.

The Tallawahs captain got invaluable support from Kennar Lewis, who tempered his big-hitting instinct while turning over the strike during a 35-ball 51. The pair added a match-winning 161 for the sixth wicket.

“A very commendable effort by Kennar Lewis as well, he played a little bit out of character at times but he came up as a good Robin for Andre, who was Batman. Andre was just hitting the ball farther and farther away — even the mishits were going for six. He paced his innings, he picked his bowlers, and he picked his moments and he certainly lit up the place,” the Tallawahs manager told the Observer.

“Kennar's innings was just what we needed. Russell was hitting the ball magnificently and Kennar just kept giving him the strike. He was also picking up boundaries as well.

“He had said he was hungry and he needs to stake his claim so he can fulfil some of the potential he has shown over the years. He is a powerful player, though his shot selection was sometimes questionable. But last night he played a fantastic role and a beautiful innings to assist us coming out on top,” Richardson said of the 26-year-old Lewis.

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