ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – Andre Russell marked his first competitive innings in over a year, with a quality half-century, but was outshone by countryman Marlon Samuels who carved out a brilliant hundred, as Leeward Islands Hurricanes beat Jamaica Scorpions in an entertaining affair here Friday night.
Chasing their second win of the Regional Super50, Hurricanes gathered 287 for five off their 50 overs, with the right-handed Samuels hammering an unbeaten 106 from 90 balls.
The century was the 36-year-old West Indies batsman’s 13th in List A competition and took him past 7,000 runs at this level.
Opener Montcin Hodge chipped in with 61, fellow opener and captain Kieran Powell scored 44 while Devon Thomas scored 27.
In reply, Russell took centre stage with 76 off 77 deliveries while West Indies superstar Chris Gayle belted 44, Peat Salmon, 31, while opener Chadwick Walton got 30.
Entering after Scorpions had lost three quick wickets for six runs, in the space of 20 balls to be 117 for five in the 26th over, Russell showed he had lost little of his touch during his one-year ban from cricket over an anti-doping breach.
His second scoring shot was a thunderous blow to the straight boundary off left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein before chalking up his half-century off 56 balls, with three fours and three sixes.
Importantly, he put on 78 for the seventh wicket with Salmon and 30 for the eighth wicket with captain Nikita Miller (8 not out), to cause some nerves in the Hurricanes camp.
But with five overs left, Scorpions faced a required run rate of 13 per over and not even a couple of lusty blows from Russell were enough to overcome the challenge.
He eventually holed out to long-on off seamer Sheno Berridge in the 49th over after striking four fours and six sixes, signalling the end of all resistance.
Gayle had earlier given the innings a flying start, slamming four fours and four sixes off 33 balls, and putting on a hasty 67 off 49 balls for the first wicket with Walton who faced 25 balls and punched five fours and a six.
With the pair in full flight, Scorpions looked good bets to chase down their target but off-spinner Justin Athanaze (3-32) removed Walton to a catch at the wicket before claiming Gayle holing out to cover, to rein in the scoring.
Test batsman Jermaine Blackwood (16) attempted to revive the innings in a 26-run, third wicket partnership with Andre McCarthy (16) but after being strangled by the Hurricanes spinners, he hit out at Hosein (2-33) and was brilliantly taken on the ropes by Mervin Mathew running around from long off to a straight position.
Hurricanes had long stamped their authority on the contest courtesy of Samuels’s hundred. Opting for first knock, the hosts were given a solid start by Hodge and Powell who posted 83 for the first wicket, before Samuels arrived to anchor successive half-century stands with Hodge and Thomas.
All told, Samuels counted eight fours and four sixes, reaching his half-century from 54 balls and requiring a further 34 balls to reach three figures. Hodge, meanwhile, faced 88 balls and counted nine fours.
With the Jamaican Samuels in full flight, Hurricanes gathered 72 runs from the last 10 overs to take control of the encounter.
Gayle finished with two for 41 with his part-time off-spin.