Sangakkara praises Russell's 'Roger Federer serve'
Chris Gayle, the captain of the Jamaica Tallawahs, has praised the contributions of Kumar Sangakkara and Andre Russell after the pair put on 35 in 11 balls for fourth wicket to help defeat Barbados Tridents by seven wickets and book Jamaica's place in Saturday's final against the Guyana Amazon Warriors.
Sangakkara, who signed for Jamaica last week, anchored the innings with an unbeaten 50, and added a crucial 71 for the second wicket with Chadwick Walton to set the tone for Russell's late onslaught, and Gayle believed his experience was vital in seeing Jamaica through.
"He made a big impact and we're happy for that. We all know what a class and key player he is, having done it worldwide, and we're pleased that he took us over the line," Gayle said. "Being a [former] captain, he knows what the situation requires. Hopefully he can do it again tomorrow, so that we can finish with a high and can celebrate."
Gayle said that despite facing an increasing run-rate, Jamaica were always confident of chasing down Barbados' 148 so long as they had big-hitters like Russell to come.
"Once he [Russell] gets going, it's going to be difficult to stop him. He's a dangerous player and played a big part by finishing it for us.
"It was just clean hitting, especially the last ball that he finished the match with. You don't see this often, batsmen playing shots like in baseball. We're very pleased and hopefully this will give us some momentum."
Despite the positive feedback from Gayle, Sangakkara, who joined Jamaica last week, was a little more critical of his own batting, and was relieved that Russell's late blitz took the team home. "I could've got a few more singles, especially at the back-end when I was trying to hit the ball hard and was losing shape and not getting off strike," Sangakkara said. "We could've got into trouble, but the way Russell hit the ball, particularly the Roger Federer serve at the end, was great."
Russell, who is Jamaica's second-highest run-getter in the tournament so far, with 170 at a strike-rate of 191.01, said that he had always backed his ability to produce the big hits.
"I was just batting with a clear head. I don't know when something like this (a 6-ball 29) will happen again, but I knew that I had the potential for making these whirlwind scores," he said. "Well done to the guys who set the tone and made my job a bit more comfortable, to just come in and play my natural game."
Looking ahead to Saturday's final against Guyana, Gayle said that his team would have to be at their very best if they were to prevail against the tournament favourites. "They are the only team to beat us twice and have been playing good all-round cricket. They have the best bowling attack in the competition so it's going to be tough. But if we bat properly, we have a good chance."