54 off 18 balls required in a final in front of a packed stadium, the Vancouver Knights were staring at defeat, but they still had one last card to play. Andre Russell was at the crease, in a situation which he thrives in many a time. If he can do it in the IPL, then doing it in the GT20 is a piece of cake.
Nonetheless, the pressure was on, and it was all down to him. Russell came in and played a couple of dot balls to get himself in, can you believe it?
The asking rate rose to over 18 runs per over, but Russell did not flinch. He looked in control and knew what he was doing despite the odds stacked against him. It was Winnipegs' final to win, they were on top but only one man could stop them, and that was Andre Russell.
Like we have seen in the past, Russell started to smash the ball to all parts of the ground. He stood deep in his crease and played each ball on merit. Along with brutal hitting, there was some smart batting as he took the singles only when required.
He played some shorts according to the field like his crunching drive over extra cover when the field was packed on the leg side. It was an absolute master class and seemed that he could hit sixes at will. Russell was in his zone and determined to get his team over the line.
Russell's blitz included three fours and five monstrous sixes as he smashed 46 off just a mere 20 balls. The equation was down to three runs off two balls, and that's when we realized Russell also has a human side.
He missed the penultimate ball, which meant that they needed three runs off the last ball. He tucked away the last ball towards mid-wicket and scampered for a couple of runs but unfortunately could not seal the game. The game ended in a tie and we were heading to a super over.
Russell started the super over with a boundary but just could not capitalize thereafter. The pitch was slowing down and there was some uneven bounce which made it difficult to time the ball. Winnipeg Hawks were left with nine runs to chase in the super over and Lynn and Anwar finished it off with ease.
We should not forget Russell's contribution with the ball as well, he picked up four wickets for just 29 runs and showed he true capability as an all-rounder.
He has been injury-prone but it seems that T20 leagues get the best out of him. The way Russell has performed in the IPL and GT20 is in stark contrast to his performance in the World Cup.
Winnipeg was not the favourites in the tournament but they toppled some great teams such as Toronto, Brampton and then Vancouver in the finals.
They were led brilliantly by Emirit who kept his calm in tense situations, particularly when Russell was batting, and backed his youngsters all the way.
Giving Kaleem Sana the last over and the super over was a big call, but it paid off and it just demonstrates the trust and belief amongst the players.
The GT20 Canada league encountered a payment dispute with the players during the tournament but that matter seems to be resolved now.
It is a learning experience for the GT20 and they will need to learn from their mistakes and keep improving as the tournament grows in the future.
Overall we got to see some highly talented players on display and we were treated to an exciting final which bodes well for the league, the organizers and the fans.
Also see - Live cricket scorePublished 13 Aug 2019, 07:45 IST