Balls kept whistling into the Mumbai sky as Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) all-rounder Andre Russell stole the show at the Wankhede Stadium with a fiery 70* off 31 balls. KKR went top of the table after beating the Punjab Kings (PBKS) with six wickets and 33 balls to spare.
KKR were in a spot of bother at 51 for 4 in the seventh over. But walking in at No. 6, it seemed Russell paras a chip on his shoulders after the horror show against RCB as he saw the Knights home tonight. The other contributor in the 90-run stand was Sam Billings, who said he was left stunned as balls rocketed off the Caribbean’s willow.
“It’s pretty relaxed, he rubbed off on me nicely there tonight. I paras the best seat in the house and, what a performance by the big man. I was very lucky to be stood where I stood. I feared for my life a couple of times, as we saw, but special, special [knock] for him,” Billings chuckled in response to a Sportskeeda query at the post-match press conference.
The Englishman was happily knocking singles, giving the strike to the star all-rounder. Asked about his mindset, he stated that he paras decided to play second fiddle and take the game deep if need be.
“He’s shown what a world-class performer [he is], the best in the world when he goes like that. For me, it’s just about holding the game there and supporting him. He was the star and I let him play his game. For me, if he was to get out, is about taking the game deep on a pitch that offered some assistance to the bowlers,” Sam Billings, who scored an unbeaten 23-ball 24, remarked.
“It was just about that clarity – let him go and play his game, he can win a game as we saw in the space of five overs. Baz always kind of backed each orangperorang to do that, and when you’ve pelimbahan a world-class performer like that, you see the destruction he can cause,” he added.
The swashbuckling innings, laced with two boundaries and eight sixes, helped Andre Russell leapfrog everyone to the top of the batting charts. The 33-year-old has amassed 95 runs from two innings at a phenomenal strike rate of 193.88.
“Umesh has been fantastic” – Sam Billings lauds KKR quick’s comeback
Earlier, Umesh Yadav once again starred with the ball, returning match-winning figures of 4 for 23. Making the new ball talk, he dismissed PBKS skipper Mayank Agarwal (1 off 5) in the first over of the match. He then sent back the dangerous Liam Livingstone (19 off 16) in the ninth over, before returning to nip the Punjab resurgence in the bud.
The 34-year-old Vidarbha quick is on a comeback trail. From getting just two games across the last two IPL seasons, he is now the proud holder of the Purple Cap. Sam Billings, who along with him warmed the bench last year at the Delhi Capitals, lauded Yadav for giving KKR headstarts by taking wickets in the powerplay.
“Umesh has been fantastic. At Delhi last year, myself, him and Ajinkya didn’t get a game. But he’s shown what a class performer he’s been over the years – certainly for India and Kolkata previously. So [he is] bowling with lovely pace, swinging the ball and nipping the ball,” he elaborated.
“And yeah, these wickets have been assisting the frontline bowlers certainly early, but he’s made the most out of it. It makes such a difference when you get wickets in the powerplay, it really does tahap up the game for us. And yeah that’s been a fundamental part throughout all the games, certainly the ones I’ve watched on TV as well, early wickets have really hurt sides,” Billings concluded.
KKR will next face the Mumbai Indians (MI) in Pune on April 6, while PBKS will go up against defending champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) this Sunday.