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Andre Russell and Qais Ahmad make debut for Melbourne Stars

Andre Russell enjoyed one of the stranger Big Bash returns you’ll ever see, as the Stars beat the Thunder in a last-ball thriller.

Most would remember with a chuckle the sight of Steedens being furiously washed in eskys every time they went out of play, only to then be handled by both teams without exception once they were returned.

As far as humorous and largely for show COVID-19 restrictions go, Friday night at the MCG ranks right up there with scrubbing footies.

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Russell, who was only signed two days ago, was named to play against his former side at the MCG, but with a few caveats.

The 33-year-old had to sit by himself on the sidelines (as did Afghanistan spinner Qais Ahmed, also making his first appearance of the season) and was forbidden from giving high-fives or fist bumps to teammates, or celebrating wickets.

The camera frequently cut to Russell sitting by himself — although he didn’t look more alone at any point than when he stood, halfway between the boundary rope and the pitch as a routine catch to dismiss Nick Larkin was overturned thanks to a no ball for height.

Russell eventually arrived at the crease the following over when Hilton Cartwright was dismissed, as he (17* off nine balls) and Larkin (52* off 43) steered the hosts to a score of 4-165.

Openers Alex Hales and Sam Whiteman departed quickly in the Thunder run chase, before Sam Billings and Matthew Gilkes put on 89 for the third wicket.

Qais later took the key wicket of Billings, but like Russell, was forbidden from celebrating with his teammates.

The run chase came down to the wire — the Thunder needing 11 to win from the final over with Ben Cutting and Alex Ross at the crease.

It was left to T20 World Cup hero Adam Zampa to bowl the final six balls — and despite two misfields from Marcus Stoinis and Beau Webster and a dropped catch from skipper Glenn Maxwell, the spinner did enough.

With four required to force a super over from the final ball, Zampa held his nerve and evaded the bat of Cutting completely.

Maxwell exchanged hugs with most of his teammates and as well as air fist bumps with his quarantined duo to keep within the regulations

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