Russell returns in style as West Indies clinch historic England victory – “I’ve been dreaming of being Man of the Match”

England’s white ball woes continued as it lost by four wickets to the West Indies on Tuesday in the first T20I at the Kensington Oval.

The visitor made an explosive start after being sent in, reaching 77-0 at the end of the PowerPlay and 112-2 after 10 overs. But England collapsed and was all out for 171 in the 20th over as Andre Russell, in his first T20I in two years, took 3-19 to lead a West Indies resurgence.

West Indies also had to negotiate difficult moments in the run chase – a short rain break and multiple setbacks as it slipped from 101-4 in the 12th over to 123-6 in the 15th.

Some big hitting from captain Rovman Powell turned the match back in the home team’s favor and the West Indies reached its target with 11 balls to spare.

Powell was unbeaten on 31 from 15 balls and Russell was not out 29 from 14 balls. Both batters hit sixes out of the stadium to pace the highest successful T20 run chase at Kensington Oval. The 35-year-old Russell was Player of the Match.

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 said post-match.

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

Earlier, Phil Salt and captain Jos Buttler, returning to the opening role after batting in the middle order in the One-Day international series defeat, gave England what seemed to be a winning start.

Salt struck 13 runs including three boundaries from the first over and England rushed to 50 in 4.5 overs. The scoring rate stepped up further when 26 runs came from the 6th over, bowled by Alzarri Joseph, which included 10 extras.

Russell broke the 77-run opening partnership in the 7th over when Salt was spectacularly caught by Shimron Hetmeyer at deep mid-wicket: the fielder stepping over the boundary and back into play to complete the catch.

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.”

Joseph also profited from the discovery and after giving up 17 runs, including seven wides, from his second over, as he settled and finished with 3-54.

England slumped from 117-2 to 129-5 in the space of 14 balls. Liam Livingston (27) and Sam Curran with 13 from 14 balls mounted a small recovery before Russell claimed the vital wicket of Livingstone. England was 165-6 and its last four wickets fell for six runs.

The West Indies also started strongly with Brandon King hitting two sixes and a four for 16 runs after the first over. It also reached 50 from 4.5 overs, though one down after King was out for 22 from 12 deliveries.

Kyle Myers made 31 from 21 balls and advanced the total to 78 before he was out at the start of the 8th over. The West Indies’ 100 came up in 10.1 overs as the home team stayed well on track to surpass the England score.

But Rehan Ahmed (3/39) dismissed Nicholas Pooran (13) with his second ball and Adil Rashid claimed the wicket of Hetmeyer to become the first England bowler to take 100 wickets in T20Is in his 100th match.

West Indies was 108-4 in the 13th over when rain fell, forcing players off the field for just over 30 minutes. Players returned with no loss of overs but the West Indies batters had to contend with a softer ball and a variable pitch.

Leave a Comment