Andre Russell made an instant impact with bat and ball on his return to the West Indies team, as the home side staged the highest-ever successful run chase at Kensington Oval to beat England by four wickets on Tuesday night.
In pursuit of 172 to win the opening T20 International, West Indies overhauled their target with 11 balls to spare, to take the lead in the five-match series, which now heads to Grenada for a doubleheader on Thursday and Saturday.
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Playing in front of a full house at the historic ground, Russell followed up his career-best three-wicket haul in the England innings with a 14-ball unbeaten 29 to ease the pressure at the end after the game appeared set for a tense finish.
Arriving at the crease in the 15th over after West Indies had lost wickets in successive balls following a break for rain, the right-hander blasted a brace of fours and sixes in a 49-run, unbroken seventh wicket stand with captain Rovman Powell, whose unbeaten 31 required only 15 balls and included three fours and two sixes. Shai Hope chipped in with a top score of 36 off 30 balls while left-handed opener Kyle Mayers slammed 35 from 21 balls.
“Life is so funny. When I got selected, I kept dreaming for two weeks now … and I was dreaming that in my first game, I would be Man-of-the-Match,” Russell said. “I didn’t know how it would happen but I [kept] believing that it will happen and I give God thanks tonight.”
His 3-19 from four overs of pace helped restrict England to 171 all out with three balls to spare after they were sent in. Alzarri Joseph finished 3-54 while fellow fast bowler Romario Shepherd produced an outstanding spell to pick up 2-24 from four overs.