Andre Russell, arguably the most dependable player for Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) in recent years, was at his brutal best in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019. Russell was in terrific form, having produced match-winning performances including 19-ball 48 against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and 17-ball 48 against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP). The Caribbean all-rounder continued his onslaught with an 18-ball 62, almost pushing Delhi Capitals out of the game but could not repeat his heroics against Kagiso Rabada in the super over that followed.
Despite all those efforts, when KKR needed 60 runs off 26 balls, with Russell coming in to bat, a win looked unlikely. Their chances became even slimmer when skipper Dinesh Karthik lost his wicket in the next over, with KKR still needing 53 runs from 18 deliveries.
Coming late into the run chase, Russell faced three dot balls in the death overs. But then, Mohammed Siraj was taken off the attack mid-over for bowling his second beamer of the match. The all-rounder hit that one for a six, a freebie that changed the course of the game.
RCB skipper Kohli introduced Marcus Stoinis to complete the over against Russell, who had got one away after struggling to connect. Stoinis was under pressure against Russell as he was going to bowl the free hit delivery. The Australian erred and Russell hit the second maximum in a row and the carnage started. He followed it up with another huge hit to clear the ropes. At the end of the over, KKR needed 30 runs off the last two overs.
Tim Southee was given the responsibility to bowl the penultimate over. Shubman Gill was on strike and he did the only sane thing one could do in the situation – he took a single. Southee tried length ball, short and wide delivery, fuller delivery from round the wicket, the one attacking the body and another in the blockhole. But nothing worked as Russell hung back in his crease, stayed still and smoked four of those for sixes and one for a boundary.
The short boundaries of M.Chinnaswamy Stadium did not help Southee. Russell had levelled the scores in the penultimate over of the run chase. All Gill needed to do was to take a single off the next over and take KKR over the line.
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