Andre Russell, Kolkata Knight Riders’ swashbuckling injured all-rounder, is likely to be available for the playoffs stage of the Indian Premier League (IPL) beginning on Sunday, the team’s chief mentor David Hussey said.
KKR have virtually assured themselves of a play-offs berth in the IPL after their 86-run win over Rajasthan Royals on Thursday. They are set to play against the third-place team of the league phase in Qualifier 1 on Sunday.
Andre Russell Just Maybe A Game Away From Playing In The Playoffs: David Hussey
When the IPL stopped midway earlier this year, Kolkata Knight Riders were struggling with two wins out of seven, but in the UAE, they have won five games out of seven to seal a place in the playoffs barring a miracle from Mumbai Indians on the last day of the league stage. They have done so despite losing Lockie Ferguson and Andre Russell to injuries along the way.
“He (Andre Russell) had a fitness test on Wednesday, and I think he’s just maybe a game away. So, I think Andre Russell would be pushing hard over the next few days to get back in for the final (play-offs),” Hussey said at the post-match press conference on Thursday.
“(Andre Russell’s availability) will be a huge boost not only for us but the competition. Andre Russell is world-class and he provides lots of entertainment.”
With three play-offs spots already sealed by Delhi Capitals, Chennai Super Kings, and Royals Challengers Bangalore, KKR consolidated their position for the fourth and final spot in the playoff race, finishing league engagements with 14 points from as many games with an impressive net run rate of 0.587. However, he admitted that there had been a change in fortunes for the KKR in the UAE after struggling in the Indian leg.
“At the halfway mark, we weren’t playing the type of cricket that we wanted to play. We are all about playing entertaining cricket — hitting fours, sixes — and with the ball, hitting the stumps, taking wickets, and fielding exceptionally well.
“So, the break probably did us a world of good — we got to refresh, recharge our batteries and re-plan — and come to Abu Dhabi. Abhishek Nayar did a great training session, all the boys got a lot of volume and (were) ready to go,” explained Hussey on how the change occurred in the group.
He credited head coach Brendon McCullum for the way KKR was playing.
“He (Brendon) is so cool and calm that he’s got this plan and vision for the team to go forward. He believes in every player to play their best. He makes everybody feel that they are the most important person in the team.”
“Brendon should take a lot of credit for the way everybody’s playing here tonight. Great for him, because he’s been through a lot,” Hussey said.
The 44-year-old former Australia cricketer also lavished praise on his players for putting up a team performance.
“It is never easy playing on these types of surfaces. Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Nitish Rana (and) Rahul Tripathi showed their class once again, they sort of adapted their games accordingly, and they knew if they take it deep in the batting innings, they are going to make a decent target,” he said.
“With the ball, pretty simple plans, bowled directly as fast as they can and at the stumps and we have got some world class spinners as well, and we back up each other in the field, so it was pretty much a team performance tonight,” Hussey said.
He said KKR will watch the final league game between Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad on Friday “as a group.” Still, they were looking forward to their play-offs game (Qualifier 1) against Royal Challengers Bangalore (likely to be third-place finishers). Andre Russell has scored 183 runs in 10 IPL 2021 games averaging 26.14, and picked 11 scalps, including a career-best 5/15 averaging 17.09. With Andre Russell injured, the likes of Shakib Al Hasan, Tim Seifert, and Tim Southee got chances.
Sanju Samson Lamented That None Of Rajasthan Batsmen Could Forge A Partnership With Rahul Tewatia
Rajasthan Royals skipper Sanju Samson lamented that none of his batters could build a partnership with Rahul Tewatia, who was going strong from one end.
“Sharjah is his (Rahul Tewatia) favourite ground, he enjoys batting here. We could have a recent (decent) partnership with him. We could have had a close match, he was batting really well, he wanted someone else actually to be with him and have a good partnership.”
“We didn’t do that and that’s why we ended up on the losing side,” Samson said.
The Kerala batsman also said that the most significant positive for his franchise was the performance of the young Indian players like Chetan Sakariya, Rahul Tewatia, and Shivam Dube.
“We have a lot of positives. If you look at the young Indians in our side, the way they came out and expressed themselves, the way they performed, that’s one of the biggest positives this season.”
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) ran riot with the ball and beat Rajasthan Royals (RR) in Match 54 of the IPL 2021 in Sharjah on Thursday. Put into bat, KKR posted 171/4 and then bowled out RR for 85 to register their seventh win of the season. While youngster pacer Shivam Mavi scalped four wickets, Kiwi pacer Lockie Ferguson picked three wickets as KKR marched towards the victory.
Brief Scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 171/4 (Shubman Gill 56, Venkatesh Iyer 38; Chetan Sakariya 1/23) beat Rajasthan Royals 85 (Rahul Tewatia 44, Shivam Dube 18; Shivam Mavi 4/21) by 86 runs.