Super Andre Russell helps KKR stay alive in playoff race

Super Andre Russell helps KKR stay alive in playoff race

The Kolkata Knight Riders registered a thumping 54-run win over the Sunrisers Hyderabad to give their playoff aspirations a major boost at the MCA Stadium in Pune on Saturday. Both sides came into this must-win fixture with 10 points on the board, but a fantastic 49* off 28 and 3 for 22 from Andre Russell took KKR over the line and handed SRH their fifth defeat on the spin in the back half of the tournament.

With nine of the first 12 games in Pune won by the team batting first, Shreyas Iyer opted to bat first after winning the toss, but KKR got off to a shaky start in the powerplay. Only 20 runs came off the first four overs from Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Marco Jansen, along with the wicket of Venkatesh Iyer, who chopped on against the left-armer. However, Nitish Rana added some much-needed impetus to the innings in the fifth, creaming two fours and a six against T Natarajan before scoring 17 runs alongside Rahane in the sixth to help KKR put on 55 runs in the powerplay.

Umran Malilk’s introduction, though, changed the state of play, as the express speedster dismissed Nitish Rana, Ajinkya Rahane and the captain Shreyas Iyer in his first two overs before T Natarajan trapped Rinku Singh on the pads with a pin-point yorker, reducing KKR to 94 for five.

As the last two recognised batters at the crease, Sam Billings and Andre Russell were forced to be cautious in their approach early on to ensure that KKR could post a defendable target. After scoring 14 of his first 17 deliveries, Billings got going with a pair of boundaries against Umran Malik in the 15th, while Russell took his time to get set before smashing three Washington Sundar full tosses into the stands in the final over to take KKR to 177.

In reply, the two SRH openers’ contrasting fortunes throughout IPL 2022 continued in the run-chase. Kane Williamson extended his horrid form with the bat – scoring just nine runs off 16 balls before being cleaned up by Andre Russell – while Abhishek Sharma smashed two sixes against the tournament’s most economical bowler – Sunil Narine – to give SRH some momentum early on.

Sharma played a blinding knock of 43 from 27 but received very little support at the other end, with Pooran and Tripathi falling for single digits and eventually perished while looking to take on Varun Chakravarthy, top-edging one into the hands of Sam Billings in the 12th over. Aiden Markram smashed three sixes in two overs to give the Sunrisers some hope, but the South African chopped on against Umesh Yadav for 32, closing the curtains for a Hyderabad victory.