Saturday 2nd August 2014 – Kingston, Jamaica. An outstanding all-round performance from Andre Russell saw the Jamaica Tallawahs defeat the Guyana Amazon Warriors for the second time in this year’s Limacol Caribbean Premier League. Russell took a wicket with the ball, outstanding catches in the field and played a lone hand with the bat to see his side home with a six off the very last ball. No other Jamaica batsman went at better than a run a ball as Russell managed 58 not out off just 24 deliveries. The target proved a stiff one for the home team, but it may have been a lot more challenging had it not been for a fine spell of quick bowling from Jerome Taylor, but this match was all about Russell.
A Powerplay that was a mix of dot balls, wickets and boundaries saw the Amazon Warriors reach 38 for two. The first wicket fell to Daniel Vettori who beat his fellow New Zealander Martin Guptill with a perfect arm ball that evaded his defence to see the batsman bowled for 15. The other man to go inside the first six overs was Mohammad Hafeez. He started with a boundary, looking to carry on where he had left off in the last match where he scored 30 runs off just 10 deliveries. He was perhaps too confident as he slashed at a short wide ball from David Bernard only to edge it through to Chadwick Walton.
While others struggled to get going, Lendl Simmons was able to find the boundary. While he was not finding singles, he was able to go at a decent rate thanks to some powerful strokes. He departed going for another six, hitting a ball from Nikita Miller high into the swirling Jamaican wind. It was one of those catches that are dropped more often than not, but not by Andre Russell. The strong breeze took the ball over his head and he dived backwards to take the catch behind him. Other catches will look more spectacular, there are few that will be as difficult.
Wickets continued to slow the visitor’s progress, with them finding themselves five down for just 77 runs inside the 13th over. That brought together Christopher Barnwell and Jimmy Neesham who did their best to resurrect the Guyana effort with the bat. They put on the best partnership of the innings before Barnwell was undone by an excellent bouncer from Jerome Taylor who gave all the batsmen the hurry up with his pace. The four overs from Taylor went for just 14 runs as he bowled with real venom and with excellent variation. He conceded just one boundary while taking three vital wickets.
Only Neesham managed to stand firm as he finished with 35 off 26 balls, but he too fell to Taylor. He will feel that he missed out as he miscued a full toss straight to Russell at long off. It was an important innings, without it Guyana may have struggled to get past 100. As it was, they set 138 to win. It looked like too few, but as it was, it was nearly enough.
A measured start from the Tallawahs in the Powerplay saw them reach 33 for one in the first six overs. Chris Gayle was happy to be patient, although he was particularly hard on Steven Jacobs. His watchfulness was not rewarded as he was bowled by Hafeez, although it took a while for him to realise it, at first thinking the bails had been removed by Denesh Ramdin’s gloves.
The fall of Gayle’s wicket saw the run rate climb as Owais Shah, Adam Voges and Jordan Blackwood found it impossible to keep the scoreboard moving in the face of some tight bowling from Hafeez and Ronsford Beaton. Voges fell to the bowling of Jacobs for 12, but it could have been an even shorter stay had the Australian not been dropped by Veerasammy Permaul while on four. It was a simple chance, and Permaul will be glad that it did not prove too costly a mistake.
It looked as if the Tallawahs had left themselves too much to do, but Andre Russell was not ready to give up on this chase. He took 19 runs off a Beaton over as the young fast bowler’s mixed bag of a tournament continued. With three overs left, there was still 12 an over needed for the home side, and Russell was the key.
Russell played a brutal innings, but he had to win the game on his own as no one else in the Tallawahs line up could time the ball with the same precision. Even the ever economical Krishmar Santokie could not keep Russell under control as the 19th over was taken for 14 by the Jamaican all rounder.
At the start of the last over, the Tallawahs still needed 13 to win. A fine first four balls from Neesham went for just three runs. That left ten needed from two balls. This presented no challenge for the barnstorming Russell who hit the last two balls for a four and a six to see his side home.
The win takes the Jamaicans up to ten points, and leaves them certain of qualification for the knockout stage of the tournament. The Amazon Warriors are still well placed to join them in the business end of the event, but two losses to their opponents in last year’s final will be a blow.