Call it the Great Escape.
With defeat staring them in the face, Andre Russell’s blistering 27-ball 62 got his Jamaica Tallawahs out of a deep hole and earned them a crucial four-wicket victory over the Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel in the Limacol Caribbean Premier League at Warner Park, Basseterre, St Kitts tonight.
The victory means the defending CPL champions now go into tomorrow’s straight semi-final knockout match against the Guyana Amazon Warriors to determine who play the Barbados Tridents in Saturday’s final.
Jamaica Tallawahs struggled at the start of their innings and had slumped to 72 for 5 in pursuit of Red Steel’s 155 for 6 when Russell came to the crease at the fall of David Bernard’s wicket in the 13th over. He was caught by Ross Taylor off left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn at mid-on for 6. The score soon became 76 for 6 in the 14th over when Nkrumah Bonner, who had been leading the Tallawahs’ run chase, was run out while backing up too far for a 41-ball 39 that included one boundary and two sixes.
What followed was carnage.
Russell struck the penultimate ball of the 14th over, bowled by fast bowler Shannon Gabriel, for a huge six over long-off and took a single off the last ball of the over. He started the 15th over bowled by Kevon Cooper with another six over deep mid-wicket. That over yielded 12 runs and Jamaican Tallawahs supporters started to believe. For the Red Steel the equation was simple – get Russell out and win; fail to do so and lose.
With Rusty Theron as his accomplice, Russell went berserk during their 82-run partnership. Russell took two massive sixes off the 16th over bowled by Jason Mohammed that went for 18 runs. Cooper bowled the 17th over that went for ten runs inclusive of a boundary through the covers.
Captain Dwayne Bravo bowled a fair 18th over that went for nine runs inclusive of another boundary through backward point. At the start of the 19th over the Tallawahs were 133 for 6, needing 23 to win and with Russell on 48 off 21 balls. He would virtually win the game in the penultimate over bowled by Gabriel that saw two dropped catches by a Red Steel team that had been thrown into panic by the talented Jamaican all-rounder.
Russell slammed three boundaries in the over that went for 15 and also brought up his half-century. The athletic allrounder had blasted five boundaries and four sixes to breathe life into the Tallawahs’ flagging innings.
Theron faced the final over with the Tallawahs needing eight runs. Two runs each off the second and third balls of Bravo’s over and then a sweetly timed drive over cover for six was the signal for celebrations in the Tallawah’s dug-out and among their fans.
Earlier the Red Steel’s innings had got off to a bad start and had stumbled to 36 for three with openers Evin Lewis (18) and Kevin O’Brien (11) as well as Nasir Jamshed (4) all back in the dug-out dismissed by David Bernard Jr.
But Taylor with a 44-ball 70 that included seven boundaries and three sixes, and Darren Bravo with 33 in 35 balls, added 110 before the Kiwi was dismissed in the 19th over when he was caught by Theron off fast bowler Jerome Taylor.
Bernard finished with 3 for 19 in his four overs while Theron took 2 for 32.
But the night will be remembered for yet another rescue mission by Man-Of-The-Match Russell.