Looking ahead instead of losing his sleep over the team’s middle-order collapse in Qualifier 2, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) chief mentor David Hussey said Andre Russell is recovering from his injury and ‘might be in the mix’ for the IPL 2021 final against Chennai Super Kings (CSK).
After the middle-order wobble, KKR managed to beat Delhi Capitals (DC) by three wickets here on Wednesday. Swashbuckling all-rounder Russell had suffered a grade 2 hamstring injury and after having missed a few games, he might be back for Friday’s final against CSK.
“He was bowling before the game (against DC) today, so he might be in the mix,” Hussey said at the post-match press conference after the win over DC.
Chasing a modest 136 for victory against DC, the KKR lost six wickets in 3.5 overs with only seven runs added, before Rahul Tripathi’s stunning six in the penultimate delivery of the final over sealed the issue in his team’s favour. Not worried with the collapse, Hussey backed his batters to come good in the final.
“No, I'm not concerned because they're all classy players. They know how to play. (It) is just the difficult nature of these pictures, they have been playing on, makes the middle of players, sort of stand out, they are not getting their strike rate 200,” Hussey said.
“They had to knuckle down and maybe a strike rate of 110-120, so not concerned, we are going to Dubai full of confidence and you just never know what's going to happen.” Venkatesh Iyer’s brilliant half-century and Shubman Gill’s 46-run knock laid the foundation for KKR before the dramatic collapse. But Hussey sounded optimistic going into the final.
“... Full credit to (KKR skipper Eoin) Morgan, (we have) full confidence in Morgan, Dinesh Karthik and Shakib (Al Hasan) going in the next game. They have done it countless times for their countries and in the IPL. So, we're looking forward to the next game,” the chief mentor said.
Hussey also informed that all-rounder Shakib will be available for selection in the final.
“He (Shakib) is a fine player, has probably won us two games or contributed to two wins, so I'd like to think he is available, and I think, everybody’s going to be available for selection, so it's going be a tough call by the head coach (Brendon McCullum),” said Hussey.
Hussey praised Iyer, who plays for Madhya Pradesh in domestic cricket, and also his partnership with Gill.
“We have found a player in Venkatesh Iyer, not only he is a classy player but he is a wonderful person and team man as well. He struck the ball superbly and from ball one, so I think some of these big sixes that he hit actually changed the tempo of the game and got us into a winning position,” said Hussey.
“Furthermore, the opening partnership we had between those two players was just class personified. They complement each other really well, if one player is going, the other one sits back and gives the other person the strike.
“And I think they run between the wickets really well. So, we have definitely found a nice opening partnership there and hopefully continues for one more game,” he added.
He also lavished praise on young opener Gill, saying the right-hander will have a long career for India.
“Shubman is a class player, everyone knows he is going to be a 10-year veteran of Test match, ODI and T20 cricket for India,” he said, adding that McCullum should get credit for the team’s turnaround after it was languishing at the seventh spot at the end of the first leg in India.