Friday, June 14, 2024

T20I: Russell returns in style as West Indies clinch historic England victory

Star all-rounder Andre Russell made a successful return to international cricket as the West Indies showed they could be a force to be reckoned with at next year’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup with an impressive four-wicket victory over England, here.

It was Russell’s first international match in more than two years and the talented 35-year-old turned it on in style with a three-wicket haul and an unbeaten 29* from 14 balls as the Caribbean side chased down England’s decent total of 171 with 11 deliveries remaining.

The run chase was the highest successful one at the picturesque Kensington Oval ground in Barbados, surpassing the previous best of 155/5 by the West Indies also against England in 2014.

Russell was deservedly named Player of the Match for his superb individual heroics and admitted after the game that his return to international cricket had gone exactly to plan.

“For two weeks now since I got the call up I have been dreaming that my first match back I would be Player of the Match,” Russell was quoted as saying by ICC after the match.

“I didn’t know how it would happen, but I just kept believing that it would happen.”

Russell said the knowledge he has from playing previously in Barbados helped him put the clamps on England and pick up a trio of valuable wickets.

“Cutters seem to work well here so I tried to bowl as many cutters and take the pace off, as most of the boundaries hit early in England’s innings were from pace on,” Russell noted.

“We pulled it back very well and well bowled to everyone tonight.”

The performance will provide the West Indies with plenty of confidence less than six months out from the start of the T20 World Cup that they will co-host with the USA, with a host of their best players appearing in good form against England.

Russell helped turn the momentum the way of the West Indies after Phil Salt (40) and Jos Buttler (39) had given England a good start by putting on 77 for the opening wicket in good time, with Alzarri Joseph (3/54) chipping in with a three-wicket haul of his own as the visitors were dismissed in their final over.

Shai Hope (36) and Kyle Mayers (35) found the middle of the bat with ease in response for the West Indies, before a brief rain delay and some inspired bowling from Rehan Ahmed (3/39) provided England with a glimmer of hope.

But Russell combined with Rovman Powell (31*) to guide the West Indies to the highest successful T20I run chase at the ground and help setup a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.

The teams meet next in Grenada on Thursday.



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