West Indies finisher Andre Russell continued his destructive Indian Premier League form with an unbeaten 48 off 13 deliveries to lead the Kolkata Knight Riders to a five-wicket victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday. Twice a world champion in the Twenty20 format, Russell hit seven sixes from nine balls in one purple patch as he drove his side to the win with five balls to spare, keeping Virat Kohli's Challengers winless in five matches in the process.
Kohli (84) and South African AB de Villiers (63) had combined for 108 of the home side's 205 for three but hopes of a first victory were dashed when their death bowlers were unable to contain Russell. The 30-year-old Jamaican all-rounder, who has now hit a remarkable 207 runs off 77 balls with 22 sixes in four matches, came out to bat with his side needing 68 runs from 26 balls and proceeded to flay the bowling around the Chinnaswamy.
"I was watching on the telly upstairs so I kind of knew what the wicket was doing," said Man of the Match Russell. "Sixty off 20 oddballs is not going to happen every day so we had to make sure we put our bodies on the line and I didn't quit. I trust my strength and I trust my power and I have a good bat speed so I trust that as well."
The home side was not helped by pacemen Mohammed Siraj being suspended midway through the 18th over for bowling a second beamer and Kohli said they deserved their place at bottom of the IPL standings. "If we bowl like that, (and) don't show composure in pressure moments, we deserve to be where we are in the table," the India captain said.
"There's no rocket science behind it. We haven't played the kind of cricket we should be playing at the level of the IPL and if you bowl like that, with not enough bravery in the crunch moments, then it's always going to be difficult when you have power-hitters like Russell in the opposition." Russell, who struggled with knee problems at the back end of last year, will be hoping his sensational Twenty20 form will carry over to the 50-overs World Cup in England and Wales, which starts at the end of next month.
(With inputs from agencies.)