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Andre Russell

Mostly fit and certainly firing, Andre Russell lays down a marker

It might only have been three overs, but Andre Russell’s spell was an exhibition of fast bowling – short and sharp in all senses.

While Oshane Thomas was deservedly Player of the Match for his four-for, it was Russell who set the tone, bowling a miserly, incisive, and smart spell of 3-1-4-2 to get West Indies off to a flyer.

“We didn’t just bowl aggressive today, we bowled good areas,” he said.

Most of the areas were short ones, and Pakistan had no answer to West Indies' bouncer strategy.

“The plan was the fuller you bowl on these sort of wickets, you are going to get driven through covers, you are going to get hit over your head,” said Russell. “Hard lengths, and these guys weren't taking on the short balls. So if you can bowl a short ball and it is not above the head and it is a dot ball, why not bowl another one? I bowled a maiden and all balls were short.”

Video cwc19 31 May 19
CWC19: WI v Pak – Russell strikes as Fakhar departs for 22

Though it didn’t claim the Pakistan captain’s wicket, a yorker to Sarfaraz Ahmed underlined Russell’s abilities as a thinking bowler, and showed he’s more than a one-trick pony. "I was just trying to playing a mind game on him, but he did well to keep it out.

“Bowling four short balls and fifth one I tell the skipper, 'Skip, I am going to bowl him the yorker.' He said why you are going to change your plan. I said I believe that I can knock him over. Naturally if you bowl every ball short, they would expect… I thought I would catch him off guard."

And even when bowling the bouncer, he explained how variation in line is key. “If the ball is slightly wide, you have to get your arms around to pull. So that can create a simple mistake - getting caught at fine leg or on the boundary and then, game over for that batsman."

Video cwc19 31 May 19
CWC19: WI v Pak – Russell's vicious bouncer gets Haris Sohail

There was game sense too in how he was handled, with Russell taken out of the attack to manage a recurrent knee problem even when he was flying.

“I’ve been struggling with my knee for the last couple of months,” he said. “When they were nine wickets down, I just ran off to get a bit of treatment.

“I’m not worried. I’ve got five days until our next game against Australia so I’m definitely going to do some work on it. I’ll be fully fit by then.”

With the win completed in double-quick time, West Indies received a net run rate boost, and at this early stage sit atop the table. It laid down a marker, that they’re here to compete as well as thrill, and perhaps suggested that, more than just being dark horses, they might be true contenders for the crown. A fit and firing Dre Russ only adds to the sense that something special is brewing.

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