PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa (CMC):Hero of Sunday’s fourth one-day international André Russell has praised the team effort which gained West Indies their first victory of the five-match series.
The Caribbean side beat South Africa by a single wicket with nine balls to spare at St George’s Park, with Russell blasting an unbeaten 64 from 40 balls.
Vice-captain Marlon Samuels stroked a top score of 68 and Darren Sammy, 51, and Russell was quick to point to their contributions as critical to the outcome.
“After the game, I gave each of them a big hug. The way they set the game up, even the small innings at the back end really counted because (Carlos) Brathwaite and Jason (Holder) … they all applied themselves,” said Russell.
“The rotation (of strike) was there and they got a few boundaries and took the pressure off me. Even (Sheldon) Cottrell giving me that single first ball up (in the 48th over), I thought that was very good. The next two balls I got sixes, and that changed the game completely, so everyone played a big part.”
South Africa posted 262 for eight off their 50 overs after they were sent in, with David Miller leading with an unbeaten 130.
West Indies were then struggling at 73 for five before Samuels and Sammy put on 90 for the sixth wicket to turn the innings around.
Captain Holder made 13 and Brathwaite, 11, but when they were dismissed, West Indies were still 24 runs adrift of victory at 239 for nine.
However, Russell smashed two sixes in the 48th over and finished off the game in the penultimate over with a four and a six off pacer Kyle Abbott.
“I was confident. I know that once I bring it right down to the wire I can get over the line because I back myself to get 15, even off the last over,” Russell told reporters.
“So I told whoever I was batting with ‘Don’t mind the dot balls, just don’t get panicked’. Every over we were getting a boundary, so that was making up for the dot balls or the ones we were getting.”
He continued: “Overall, I thank God for this victory because just before practice or just before a game, we pray and ask God to help us to come out victorious, and it happened today, so I just want to tell God thanks and well done to the guys.
“I think we really applied ourselves today from in the field, the way we bowled … we brought it right down to the last few overs.”
The victory broke a losing skid for the Windies that began in Durban and continued with defeats in Johannesburg and East London.
Russell said, however, that the losses were not for a lack of trying or commitment.
“We planned properly for the last three games, but we just didn’t come out on top. It’s not like we weren’t having good discussions or we weren’t turning up to play,” he stressed.
“We were turning up to play, but it’s a round ball, so it was just going South Africa’s way. They are playing good cricket, you can’t take that away from them, but well done to the guys.”