Kolkata: Kings XI Punjab coach Mike Hesson said “game-changer” Andre Russell completely snatched the match away from his team in the IPL clash against Kolkata Knight Riders and rued the no ball that let off the swashbuckler before he went on a rampage. Russell was on three off five balls when he was bowled by Mohammed Shami with an inch-perfect yorker on off-stump but it was declared a no ball because the side had three fielders, instead of the mandatory four, inside the circle in the 17th over.
Russell then smashed eight boundaries in a row to add 44 runs in the next 12 balls to push KKR to a record 218/4 at the Eden Gardens. “It’s a fine line when you’re bowling to Andre Russell. He’s a gamechanger,” Hesson said as Russell returned with a second man-of-the-match award in KKR’s 28-run win.
Russell was the star with a 19-ball unbeaten 49 in KKR’s six-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in their opening match here on March 24. “We had that little bit of jubilation and then things turned pretty quickly (with the no ball) and we weren’t quite able to turn the last few overs for 12 or 14 runs. Instead we ended up giving giving away 22 or 24 runs, and it probably changed the game.”
Their 14-run win over Rajasthan Royals was overshadowed by R Ashwin’s controversial ‘Mankading’ of Jos Buttler but Hesson said the incident did not affect the skipper. “We were very focused in terms of preparing for KKR. So that’s very much been our focus.” Skipper Ashwin’s decision to bring on their Rs 8.4 crore buy Varun Chakravarthy to bowl the second over backfired spectacularly. Sunil Narine hammered the uncapped mystery spinner for three sixes and a four in a 25-run over.
Defending the ploy, Hesson said, “It wasn’t so much Narine. Lynn was on strike at the start of that second over. That was the match-up we were looking for. And then Narine came on strike and you know he was able to take a toll.” Hesson also backed Chakravarthy and said he was nervous like anyone else playing their first game.
“The way he came back in the second and third over was excellent. And it will give him and us a lot of confidence. You know, playing your first game in front of a crowd like this is difficult. “Narine’s obviously going to hit you from ball one. I think he will learn to settle down a bit quicker. But I’m still very pleased the way how he came back.”