70 not out, 31 balls, 2x4, 8x6 – Andre Russell was back in his elements after nearly a gap of two years as he muscled Kolkata Knight Riders to a six-wicket win over Punjab Kings in an entertaining IPL 2022 encounter at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday.
Coming in at the crease when KKR were reeling at 51 for four and what looked like a tricky chase at one point ended in an anti-climax as the big Jamaican muscled the maximums into the stands. In the end, KKR reached 138 in 14.3 overs to pocket another two points to the top of the IPL 2022 table.
“Feeling awesome, this is the reason why we play the game. In that position, I know what I can do,” Russell said after the match. Russell had indicated to his partner Sam Billings that once he was nicely warmed up, he will go for the shots.
“It was good to have someone at the crease like Sam who can rotate and help us stick through the tough time. “Once I started sweating, I just said that I am gonna go. I backed my ability and that’s what I did tonight. I am happy to bring the team over the line,” added Russell.
The strategy was to see off Rahul Chahar's spell as left-arm spinner Harpreet Brar didn’t seem threatening. “I knew we were the two guys who'll definitely look to get a partnership. I told Sam, 'listen, let's just bat a few overs and see what happens.' But we had to attack earlier because the left-arm orthodox wasn't spinning the ball and nothing was happening.
“So we decided to take charge from one end and look to get singles from the other end. Chahar was bowling extremely well, it was gripping as well. We didn't want to take much chance against him. We knew it'd get easier. I am going to say one (when asked how many he got off the middle).”
Russell isn't bowling a lot and also suffered a shoulder niggle in the last game but is happy if skipper Shreyas Iyer wants him to do so. “I am happy to do whatever the team requires. I am looking to bowl in the death.
“If the captain wants me to bowl one in the powerplay, I am more than happy to do that but we have a good amount of bowlers. We have a few guys that can actually chip in one or two as well.
“I know in some games I won't be bowling four but if at least I bowl two overs, I can feel a part of the game and feel like an all-rounder. These things do happen, some games it's gonna be easy and I may not bowl a ball.”
Umesh Yadav, who has been a revelation in this edition after having played two games in last two seasons, said that it's his work ethic that has kept him going.
“I need to work hard. Getting older and when you know when you play just one format, I look to bowl as much as possible. When someone improves at practice, they do well during the match as well.
“Whatever is happening now, has been because of what I have practiced with my coaches. If you bowl at 140kph, you need to be accurate, you need to bowl at the stumps.” Umesh currently holds the Purple Cap with eight wickets.
With PTI Inputs