Kolkata: Terming the 10-run defeat to Royal Challengers Bangalore “sweet and sour”, a disappointed Andre Russell did not mince words to say he should bat higher up the order in situations like these for Kolkata Knight Riders.
Chasing a stiff 214 for victory, Russell smashed a typical 25-ball 65 and combined with Nitish Rana (85 not out) for a 118-run stand off 48 balls to take KKR to within two hits from a win in the last over. “When you lose cricket games like this, it’s a sweet and sour feeling. The guys tried very hard tonight. Just a four and a six would have taken us over the line. But we have a lot to learn from this game,” Russell told reporters.
KKR were 79/4 in 11.5 overs when Russell came in to bat. With 113 required off the final six overs, Russell gave the visitors a huge scare by clubbing nine sixes in 25 balls as it came down to Moeen Ali’s final over before victory could at last be guaranteed for RCB. But in the middle overs, after KKR had lost the first three wickets inside the Powerplay, Robin Uthappa and Rana stumbled along, accumulating just 46 off 41 balls in a partnership that had Russell fuming in the dugout.
“I’m disappointed to be honest. We lost the game in the middle even though we should have restricted RCB for less than 200. The ball was in our court and we tossed the ball on their side. To lose by 10 runs, its just two hits away. In the middle period, if we scored a bit faster we would definitely get the runs with even balls to spare. “We have to go and regroup again, and have meetings about these things and discuss what we need to discuss and what to do at the right time,” Russell said.
Asked if he feels he should bat at No. 4 especially in these situations, Russell slowly nodded and said: “I believe that but (finger in front of lip to indicate he cannot speak about it).AI think sometime you have to flexible as a team.” Russell justified his thought by saying that when he comes in to bat, Kohli would go to his best bowlers. That would mean they would not have too many overs up their sleeves towards the back end.
“When you look at the makeup of our team, I would not mind going to bat at No. 4. I believe when I am at the crease, Virat Kohli is going to bowl his best bowlers to get me out. And those best bowlers will have less overs in the back end. So, even if I score 60 off 25 balls, I give the team that pump. Dale Steyn (2/40) or maybe the other guys will have one over to bowl at the death and maybe, I think me going to bat early would definitely be a good thing for KKR,” the 30-year old said.
Russell, though, added that keeping in mind the team combination, and what he can do in the last 4-5 overs, he is best kept for the end. “But with our makeup of the team, that’s not a good time at the moment because for me to bat at the backend, I know what I can do in 4-5 overs.” Russell urged the team to learn from this game and have the belief that they can gun down any total. “We are under pressure now and need to catch up from the back. I hope this momentum that we had in the last partnership between me and Nitish, can actually help us learn and give the guys the belief that it doesn’t matter if we are chasing 220, we still can do it.”
KKR have now lost four games in a row, languishing sixth in the points table. They next take on Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday. Russell, who has 377 runs in 9 innings, further said that it is his clear mindset that helps him bat like this. “I’ve a clear mindset that’s what allowed me to do what I’m doing now. I’m not afraid to get out. I mean, this is cricket, it won’t be the first or the last,” he said. “What I’m doing now, I could have been doing this three, four years ago. But every game I was playing, I was thinking that I have to score 50 or have to get wickets. If I don’t, I’ll be on the sideline because you have four or five other good international players on the sideline,” he concluded.