IPL 2018: Andre Russell brings spring in Kolkata Knight Riders’ stride

Andre Russell, who scored a brisk 31 off 14 and finished the match with bowling figures of 3/41, proved to be the deciding factor for Kolkata Knight Riders as they defeated Kings XI Punjab in Indore on Saturday
Andre Russell was the star performer for Kolkata Knight Riders during their IPL 2018 encounter against Kings XI Punjab on Saturday.(PTI)
Andre Russell was the star performer for Kolkata Knight Riders during their IPL 2018 encounter against Kings XI Punjab on Saturday.(PTI)
Updated on May 13, 2018 10:38 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Indore | By Sidharth Gulati

While it was Sunil Narine who stole the limelight with his 36-ball 75 in Kolkata Knight Riders’ 31-run over Kings XI Punjab at Holkar Stadium in Indore on Saturday, Andre Russell bowled the most important spell at a time when KL Rahul and Chris Gayle were threatening to take the game away. A loss would have all but ended KKR’s campaign. (HIGHLIGHTS)

Chasing 246, KXIP openers Gayle and Rahul, who have done the bulk of scoring for their side so far in the tournament, put on a fifty-plus (57) partnership before Russell got the better of Gayle (21) and no 3 batsman Mayank Agarwal (0) with back-to-back bouncers in the sixth over. (SCORECARD)

Couple of overs later, he sent back Karun Nair, leaving the hosts in all sorts of trouble. Two of KXIP’s highest run-scorers in the tournament (Gayle - 332 and Nair - 246) were back in the pavilion with the team still needing more than 150 to win.

Rahul and R Ashwin’s valiant knocks weren’t enough as KXIP couldn’t get the job done as KKR kept their hopes alive for a playoff berth.

Lavishing praise on Russell, KKR pacer Prasidh Krishna said: “The confidence and fearlessness that he (Russell) brings is amazing. We just love to have him in the team. His experience is vital for the youngsters.”

READ | IPL 2018: Kolkata Knight Riders thrash Kings XI Punjab in high-scoring thriller

After Narine had shared 53 and 75-run stands with Chris Lynn and Robin Uthappa, Andrew Tye struck for KXIP, removing Narine and the KKR no 3 in a space of three deliveries, but that didn’t affect KKR much with skipper Dinesh Karthik (50 off 23 balls) and Russell (31 off 14 balls) forging the third half-century stand of the innings, plundering 76 from only 31 balls. KKR finally scored 245/6, the fourth highest total in the history of IPL and the best this season.

‘Stuck to my plans’

Krishna, who finished with figures of 2/31, said Russell’s guidance helped him believe more in the plans he had for KXIP batsmen.

“He (Russell) told me to be calm. I knew which areas were easy for KXIP batsmen. Even if I get hit, I have to make sure it’s according to my plan.”

“Small ground, one big over and the game can change. I just made sure the 24 balls I bowl, they should be as per my plan,” Krishna added.

‘More aware’

Meanwhile, KXIP’s Andrew Tye, who took a four-wicket haul to extend his tournament’s wicket tally to 20, said he has used the variations to good effect and that’s one of the reasons why he has been successful.

READ | Dinesh Karthik, Andre Russell blitz takes KKR to record total against KXIP

“I’m a lot more aware, trying not to be too predictable. Batsmen know I’m going to bowl slower deliveries more often than not, so I have to keep coming up with ways to get wickets,” Tye said at the post-match conference.

Asked about the fragile middle-order batting: “It’s disappointing. Someone other than KL (Rahul) and Chris (Gayle) has to stand up. Aaron Finch showed glimpses of his old self (today) but we need more from him and the other batsmen. We haven’t had consistency in our batting,” he added.

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