I’m glad I don’t have to bowl to Russell, says Kuldeep Yadav
Kolkata: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have had a stupendous time in this edition’s Indian Premier League (IPL). The franchise, captained by Dinesh Karthik, has won two matches out of three and are in the middle of the points table. They lost to the Delhi Capitals (DC) at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi, but prior to that, managed to beat Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) at Eden Gardens. One of the main reasons why the Knights have been competitive is Andre Russell, who is currently the third highest run-scorer in IPL 2019 with 159 runs at an average of 79.50 and a titanic strike-rate of 248.43. The Jamaican has also smacked 15 sixes, the most in the tournament thus far and quite rightly, Kuldeep Yadav, KKR’s chinaman bowler, has hailed the hulk-like batsman as a game-changer. “You need a player who can change the game for you. We have Russell in that category. He is a perfect game changer for us. “We all are proud of him. When he is on fire, he is unstoppable. I am glad I don’t have to bowl to him (Russell),” Kuldeep was quoted as saying. Yadav also sounded confident about the Knight Riders’ chances of winning their third title in the T20 league. “He is the kind of player who can destroy any bowler’s economy rate. The way we have been playing and have showed fighting spirit, I think KKR will win the trophy this year,” he added. Russell has scored 159 runs from three innings at 79.50 with a strike rate of 248.83 in the first three matches. He also took five key wickets for his team. Before the start of the tournament, the majority of the fans and pundits picked the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Chris Gayle and other destructive top-order batsmen as favourites to win the ‘Orange Cap’, but Russell has surprised one and all with his hitting and more importantly consistency. Considering the position he bats at and the number of balls he gets to face in an innings, 159 runs in three matches is a Herculean effort by the Windies all-rounder. He has scored 20 (or more) runs in an over thrice in IPL 2019 already, and with 15 sixes to his credit, Russell is also the number one batsman in the list of ‘most sixes in IPL 2019’, after the first week. His teammate Nitish Rana, Warner, and Chris Gayle are behind him on the list with 10 sixes each. Russell’s impact in the first week of IPL 2019 was bigger than any other player in the tournament. As far as Kuldeep is concerned, he hasn’t had the best of tournaments, picking up only a couple of wickets in three matches with best figures of 2/41 against the Capitals in the last encounter. KKR are next scheduled to lock horns against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on April 5.