ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (CMC):
Andre Russell blasted a pulsating half-century but found himself upstaged by fellow Jamaican and West Indies teammate, Sheldon Cottrell, as winless Abu Dhabi Knight Riders plunged to their fourth defeat on the trot in the International League T20 (ILT20) here yesterday.
Always under pressure once English opener Alex Hales stroked a sublime 110 to power Desert Vipers to 219 for four off their 20 overs, Knight Riders suffered a shocking collapse and were bowled out for 108 at the start of the 16th over, to suffer a heavy 111-run loss.
Russell set the run chase alight with a 29-ball 57, clobbering five fours and five sixes but the innings never recovered from a devastating spell from left-arm speedster Cottrell who blew away the top order to finish with three for 14 from four overs.
The defeat left star-studded Knight Riders rock bottom of the six-team standings without a point while unbeaten Vipers assumed top spot on six points with their third win.
Asked to bat first at the Zayed Cricket Stadium, Vipers lost Rohan Mustafa cheaply for eight with as many runs on the board in the first over before finding their revival in Hales.
The right-hander belted seven fours and half-dozen sixes in a 59-ball knock, posting a magnificent 164 for the second wicket with captain Colin Munro whose 56 came from 41 deliveries and included four fours and two sixes.
When Munro perished in the 17th over, West Indies left-hander Sherfane Rutherford maintained the momentum with a seven-ball 23 which included two fours and two sixes, as he added a further 30 for the third wicket with Hales.
Facing a required run rate of 11, Knight Riders suffered a top-order meltdown as Cottrell bowled fellow Jamaican and West Indies teammate Brandon King (six) with the sixth ball of the innings and then accounted for another Jamaican, Kennar Lewis for eight in his next over, caught at mid-on at 15 or two.
Colin Ingram and Charith Asalanka both failed to score, leaving Knight Riders tottering on 18 for four in the fifth over and even though Dhananjaya de Silva (12) and Zawar Farid (11) tried to prop up the innings in a 24-run stand, Cottrell returned to break the stand in the seventh over to heap further turmoil on the run chase.
Russell counter-attacked in a 36-run seventh-wicket partnership with West Indies player Akeal Hosein (one) but the effort was in vain.