Rajshahi Royals are 80 for 4 in the 14th over in pursuit of 165 in the second qualifier. Their captain Andre Russell munches on some fruits and gulps down coconut water. Russell’s plan is stand still, let the head follow the ball, swing hard, and take the game as deep as possible.
“I tried to hit the ball out of anyone’s way,” Russell said of his unbeaten 54 off 22 balls.
All seven of his sixes on Wednesday evening sailed easily into the Shere Bangla National Stadium’s stands. His fours thudded into the fence. There are no half measures in Russell’s world. However, it was the simplicity of his plan that stood out.
Russell said he doesn’t like batsmen who charge at bowlers in the slog overs. He is someone who can biff yorkers from the crease. And he delivered for Rajshahi when it really mattered. Rajshahi had played some impressive cricket in the league phase, but due to some lethargic batting in a knockout, they were in danger of slipping out of the tournament. Russell, though, had other ideas and pulled off a remarkable win.
“I love playing in these situations, when it is 12, 13 or 14 runs [needed] per over,” Russell said. “Sometimes I love when its like even 15 or 16. I like these challenges. I am strong and I know if I stay as still as possible, I will always have an open mindset and I don’t premeditate. I was upset with one of our batters who got out. He advanced down the wicket. The bowler is already under pressure at the death. Once you stay still, you give yourself every chance.”
Russell praised No. 11 Abu Jayed for keeping his composure under pressure and giving him the strike in the penultimate over against Mehedi Hasan Rana. Russell took on one of the most impressive fast bowlers in the tournament and slammed him for three successive boundaries to narrow the equation to eight off six balls. He then finished it off with a six in the last over, bowled by allrounder Asela Gunaratne.
“The plan was just stay there until the end,” Russell said. “I wasn’t worried about the falling wickets but as more wickets fell, it put pressure on me. I just wanted one person from one end, and then let me do my thing at the other end. [Abu Jayed] Rahi stood up with me. Well done to him. I think every run was really important. These scores can be very tricky at times.”
Russell said that he will hold back the celebrations for now and will set his focus towards winning the final against Khula Tigers on Friday. The star allrounder’s presence in the final might attract a full house at the ground and a larger TV audience, something that has been missing so far this BPL season.
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