Andre Russell’s batting position for his IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) has been debated for the past few seasons. After yet another KKR loss, coach Brendon McCullum shed more light on the team’s strategy regarding the Jamaican’s batting position.
On Thursday, against the Delhi Capitals (DC), Andre Russell walked out to bat at No.6 – a position popularly believed to be too low for someone who is the side’s trump card. Coming in during the 11th over, he smashed a 27-ball 45 not out to help KKR post 154. However, the total wasn’t enough to prevent a defeat.
Andre Russell Couldn’t Play With The Same Freedom But Powered KKR To A Competitive Score: Brendon McCullum
With wickets falling at the other end, the West Indian all-rounder couldn’t express himself as freely as he usually does. With a strike rate of 180 in his IPL career, Andre Russell tops the list of the best strike rates in the tournament’s history. So while Brendon McCullum believes that the 33-year-old is best utilized after 12 overs, he wants the other batters to provide him with a platform.
Speaking on why KKR management thinks Andre Russell’s position should be strategic, McCullum told the press: “I had a conversation with Andre Russell at the start of the season. We looked at a lot of stats and numbers.
“Ideally, with the right platform, beyond 12 overs is what we agreed on. There are times when he has to come in earlier, like today. That allowed him to settle down slightly better, but he couldn’t play with the same freedom because we had fallen into a sort of a hole. But then he powered us to a competitive score.”
Skipper Eoin Morgan was ineffective, and the gamble of promoting Sunil Narine didn’t pay off either. Sunil Narine has managed to score a mere 10 runs in 4 matches while skipper Eoin Morgan has managed only 92 runs in 7 games with a highest of 47 as KKR’s middle order has failed repeatedly this season.
Brendon McCullum: It’s Up To The Other Guys To Provide Andre Russell With A Platform
Brendon McCullum cited the example of KKR’s clash against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in Mumbai last week, where KKR was 31 for five in the sixth over, chasing 221, and Andre Russell kept them in the game with a 22-ball 54 not out. KKR was eventually bowled out for 202 to lose by 18 runs.
KKR was reeling at 31/5 but a late assault from Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik, and Pat Cummins helped the 2-time champions get close to CSK’s total of 220 runs. Dinesh Karthik hit 40 from 24 while PatCummins hit 6 sixes and 4 boundaries for his 34-ball 66 not out before running out of partners.
McCullum said: “Against Chennai Super Kings at Mumbai, the game was so far beyond us by the time he walked in. He had to take the game on, and he has the ability. Ideally, it’s 12 overs onwards when he can do the damage with the least amount of risks.
“So it’s really up to the other guys to provide him with a better platform rather than ask too much from him. He was good tonight and in the last few games. So, looking at the few positives from this loss, his form is certainly one.”
With 163 runs at 27.16 and a strike rate of 155.23, Andre Russell has had a fluctuating season this year and has often struggled for support. KKR is in the fifth spot in the points table with only two wins from their seven matches. They will have to win at least five of their remaining seven games to stand a chance of qualification to the playoffs.
KKR has batsmen – Karun Nair, Gurkeerat Singh, Ben Cutting, Sheldon Jackson, and Tim Seifert – warming the bench as the side-eye changes in the games to follow.