Andre Russell put in yet another gold-star performance to keep Kolkata Knight Riders’ playoff hopes alive by securing his team their first win after six defeats in the home clash against Mumbai Indians on Sunday.
Russell blasted an unbeaten 80 off 40 balls as the Knight Riders posted the highest total of the season – 232-2. In reply, Hardik Pandya matched Russell shot for shot as he struck 91 off just 34 balls with six fours and nine sixes but Mumbai could only reach 198-7 resulting in a 34-run triumph for the hosts.
Russell picked up 2-25 and and snared two catches to cap a fine day and help Kolkata stay in the IPL 2019 playoff race.
Good sense prevails
The decision-making abilities of the KKR this season has come under heavy fire, none more so than from Russell. Be it the poor execution from their bowlers, the inexplicable decision to bat Russell lower down the order and the yo-yoing of Shubman Gill up and down the order.
On Sunday, Kolkata got their line-up and strategy spot on with the bat. Openers Gill and Chris Lynn dug in on a true Eden Gardens wicket, blazing to 96 for the opening wicket inside 10 overs. When Lynn departed for a well made 54 off 29 balls, the KKR management got to right the wrongs of previous games by sending Russell in at one down.
Finally, after having his confidence destroyed by Karthik’s insistence in batting him at No 6 and 7, Shubman Gill is finally getting into his groove. If he’d played up top earlier, he would have won a few games for #KKR by now. Anyway, better late than never..#KKRvMI— Hemant (@hemantbuch) April 28, 2019
Russell & Gill show
With young batsman Gill opening up beautifully, Russell got a chance to do something truly unique – get his eye in. After 12 balls, the Caribbean marauder was on six. But successive sixes over mid wicket off leg-spinner Rahul Chahar set him off.
Gill at the other end was busy playing sumptuous shots – successive fours off a drive and flick against Lasith Malinga as imperious as they get.
But when Gill departed for a fine 76 off 45 balls in the 16th over, it was time for Dre Russ to do his thing.
Three sixes off Hardik Pandya in the 18th over put Russell into top gear while Jasprit Bumrah and Malinga bore the brunt of his death overs avatar. Bumrah was smashed for a four and a flat six over cover while Malinga was torn apart in the final over with two fours and as many sixes. KKR’s 232-2 was the highest total of the season with Russell finishing on 80 off 40 with six fours and eight sixes.
Russell at it again
Whatever Russell touched on Sunday turned into gold. If his batting was brilliant, his bowling was even more impressive in a high scoring match.
With his first ball of the innings, Russell got dangerman Evin Lewis to nick one behind to the keeper while in his next over, he deceived Suryakumar Yadav with a slower one that the batsman top edged behind. And for icing on the cake, Russell took the catches of opener Quinton de Kock and later Hardik.
Pandya goes ballistic
Hardik didn’t give in even when the equation read 100 off 36 balls. Hardik took particular liking to leg-spinner Piysh Chawla who was taken for 57 runs from his four overs.
Hardik treated spinners Chawla and Sunil Narine with disdain but Kolkata knew it was a matter of time before the innings lost steam. It was the seamers who kept a lid on the scoring with Sandeep Warrier (0-29), Russell (2-25) and Harry Gurney (2-37) maintaining decent economy rates.
Delhi Capitals became the second team to qualify for the IPL 2019 playoffs after a clinical 16-run win over Royal Challengers Bangalore at home on Sunday.
Batting first on a markedly better Feroz Shah Kota pitch, Delhi posted an above average 187-5 thanks a late charge in the death overs that produced 56 runs from four after Shikhar Dhawan and captain Shreyas Iyer posted fifties. The Royal Challengers made a fine start but the slowing Delhi pitch and sharp Capitals attack restricted their reply to 171-7 with Kagiso Rabada (2-31) bowling brilliantly at the death.
Virat Kohli’s RCB are almost out of the tournament following their eighth defeat but are technically still in with a chance if they win their remaining two games and other results go their way.
Dhawan motors along
After an indifferent few months in white-ball cricket, Dhawan is coming into his own. The southpaw entered the clash against RCB on the back of successive fifties and a 35. Dhawan was in top form on Sunday as well, making the most of decent batting conditions and an attack missing Dale Steyn.
Dhawan (50 off 37 balls) and captain Iyer (52 from 37) played extremely sensibly on a Delhi pitch that can’t be trusted. They laid the foundation for a late push without eating up too many deliveries themselves. The duo took the score to 103-2 in the 13th over.
RCB spinners Yuzvendra Chahal (2-41) and Washington Sundar (1-29) took the scalps of Dhawan, Iyer and the dangerous Rishabh Pant in succession to put the brakes on Delhi’s scoring.
After 17 overs, Delhi were 141-5 and looked set to finish around the 165-170 run mark. But Sherfane Rutherford (28 off 13) and Axar Patel (16 off 9 balls) let loose in the final few overs to turbo charge the Delhi innings.
Umesh Yadav and Navdeep Saini were smashed for four fours and two sixes in the last two overs as Delhi posted a healthy 187-5.
Bangalore hit the ground running
RCB openers Parthiv Patel and captain Kohli sped off the blocks, racing to 56-0 after five overs. A few more overs of such batting and Royal Challengers would have been in complete control.
But Delhi knew one breakthrough would break the momentum as the wicket was very difficult to start on. Pace spearhead Rabada was once again the go-to man, getting Parthiv caught at point in the sixth over. One over later, left-arm spinner Axar got the big scalp of Kohli – caught at deep midwicket in the eighth over.
Rabada rises to the challenge
RCB needed 36 from the last three overs which is definitely gettable in T20 cricket. But Rabada bowled a stupendous 18th over, giving away just six runs as he mixed up yorkers, slower ones and short balls perfectly.
Ishant Sharma recovered from a poor 17th over to give away just four in the penultimate before Rabada finished the job to send Delhi through and all but end RCB’s playoff hopes. Delhi made it past the league phase for the first time since 2012.
Dinesh Karthik and his men are now stranded in seventh spot in the league table and are in desperate need of a win to keep their play-off ambitions alive.
Mumbai, on the other hand, are second in the table and will join Chennai Super Kings in the play-offs should they manage to win.
Will KKR finally arrest their slide or will Mumbai inflict further misery on Karthik’s men? Follow the ball-by-ball live action from the Eden Gardens below to find out.