Wednesday 13th August 2014 – Basseterre, St. Kitts – A brilliant late order batting performance from Andre 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 & 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 inside the Powerplay left them struggling for momentum. Kevin O’Brien was the first man to go, edging the ball to first slip. After an excellent run of form in the middle of the tournament, the Irishman has struggled. His 11 runs here was his highest score in four innings. The Red Steel took a gamble with Nasir Jamshed who had not played since the Trinidad & 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 in to 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 team mate.
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 Andre 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. Taylor accelerated after the chance was put down, scoring another 43 runs off 17 balls to really make the Tallawahs pay for their poor fielding.
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. It was therefore not surprising that they only managed a run a ball from that point until the end 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, although Andre Russell did not want to give up. He blasted the ball from the moment he arrived in the middle. He was particularly harsh on Jason Mohammed. The off spinner was in the side as a replacement for Badree, but he could not come close to matching the man he was deputising for. Russell went to his fifty with a shot that broke his bat, off just 22 deliveries. Russell rode his luck, but when Evin Lewis put him down in the 19th, it looked like it was the Jamaicans night.
In combination with Rusty Theron, he just refused to give up. Russell finished on 62 not out, but it was Theron who hit the winning runs, a flat six over extra cover that saw his side through to the second playoff game tomorrow night.
Mickey Arthur, Jamaica Tallawahs coach, said; “Ten overs into our innings, I really didn’t think we would do it, but with two overs to go, I was very confident. Andre Russell was our last hope – he has won three matches for us in the tournament and he was brilliant again tonight.
“I am still waiting for us to put together a complete performance – we bowled well to begin with today and again in the final three overs, but we need to concentrate in the field for the full twenty. In terms of our batting tomorrow, we really need our top order to begin performing and not just rely on Chris Gayle and Andre Russell.”
Man of the Match for the Jamaica Tallawahs, Andre Russell, said; “When we were six wickets down, we were in a bit of trouble and the run rate was rising, but hitting a boundary straight away right out of the middle got me going nicely. This gives us a lot of confidence for tomorrow’s match and all the hard work in the nets paid off for me today.”
Simon Helmot, Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel coach, said; “I am obviously so disappointed with the result as I feel we had a great opportunity to get to the semi-final. The last two overs cost us dearly with the dropped catches and the misfields, but in many ways we played well throughout the game and the tournament as a whole. We were just not quite precise enough when bowling to Andre Russell and his amazing innings took the game away from us.
“I have really enjoyed my time in the Caribbean with the Red Steel and have made lots of friends. I have coached in the IPL and in Australia but nothing compares to the Caribbean. The 36 hour flight home will be a long one knowing we came so close, but that is T20 cricket.”