BRIDGETOWN: Veteran all-rounder Andre Russell made a dazzling return to international cricket to help West Indies cruise to a four-wicket victory over England in the opening T20I on Tuesday.
Handed a shock recall after a two-year absence, Andre Russell shone with bat and ball at Kensington Oval as the home side reached the victory target with ease to finish at 172-6 from 18.1 overs.
The 35-year-old Russell was the pick of the West Indies bowlers with three wickets for 19 runs off four overs as world champions England were all out for 171.
Russell, alongside skipper Rovman Powell, who was unbeaten on 31, then produced a quick-fire 29 not out to see West Indies home after a mid-innings wobble threatened to allow England back into the contest.
Russell’s innings off just 14 balls included two fours and two sixes, including a monstrous six out of the ground over midwicket off Adil Rashid.
West Indies blasted 14 sixes throughout the innings, including two huge swipes from opener Kyle Mayers early on which also flew out of the ground.
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Russell later slashed a sublime shot over backward point off Sam Curran for four runs to seal victory and a superb individual performance.
“Life is so funny,” man-of-the-match Russell said.
“Since when I got selected for the West Indies team I’ve been dreaming for two weeks now — and I was dreaming of being man of the match.”
England skipper Jos Buttler was left to rue the tourists’ inability to cash in on a strong start to their innings which included a 77-run opening partnership.
“From the position we were in, we were looking for a score of 200,” said Buttler, who scored 39 while fellow opener Phil Salt put on a stylish 40 off 20 balls.
“We want to keep pushing the boundaries and trying to be as positive as we can.
“But it’s about finding ways to keep scoring in that manner, getting those extra 20, 25 runs in an unfashionable way.”
The second game of the series takes place in Grenada on Thursday.