Kolkata, April 12: In Match 26 of VIVO Indian Premier League (IPL 2019), Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will host Delhi Capitals (DC) at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata Friday. Andre Russell’s big-hitting prowess will challenge Kagiso Rabada’s inch-perfect yorkers for the second time in IPL 2019 as DC will look shed away their inconsistent run. Kolkata Knight Riders are placed at the second position in IPL points table 2019 with eight points from six matches. On the other hand, Delhi Capitals had an inconsistent run in IPL 2019 and they are at sixth position in IPL 2019 points table with six points.
It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to state that the first half of the Indian Premier League has mostly been about Andre Russell. His batting exploits have single-handedly, on more occasions than one, have influenced KKR’s fortunes. Despite playing in the lower-middle order, Russell has managed to notch up numbers like 257 runs off just 121 balls, a strike-rate of 212.39, easily bossing the list of maximum impact – if ever there was such a list.
In six games so far, Russell’s job predominantly has been to haul KKR out of sticky situations. While succeeding for most parts, he was conquered just the once – against Delhi – by the pace prodigy Kagiso Rabada. Even at the Feroz Shah Kotla, Russell had dispatched Delhi’s bowlers to all parts en route a 28-ball 62, but when it mattered most – in the Super Over – it was Rabada who bowled the ‘ball of the season’ to york the mighty Russell and seal victory.
Since then, the road for either side has been a bit of a contrast. While Delhi were beaten by Kings XI Punjab and Sunrisers Hyderabad, before bouncing back against Royal Challengers Bangalore, KKR picked up emphatic wins against RCB and Rajasthan Royals, before succumbing to the spin-twins in Chennai.
The reason for the over-reliance on Russell has been due to consistent failures at the top. Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine have, as a pair, failed to provide the starts they are capable of, leaving the middle order with much of the catching up to do. Nitish Rana teed off in the first two games, but has been relatively sedate since, as has Robin Uthappa. The bowling unit, too, hasn’t fired in unison.
Meanwhile, Delhi, after a comfortable win over RCB, have been hampered by injuries. They held trials in Kolkata to explore options for replacements, as coach Ricky Ponting confirmed on the eve of the match. While a lot of chatter in the Delhi camp will encompass containing Russell, they can take a cue from the CSK game where the spinners were able to keep him quiet largely.
However, with the pitch aiding the pacers, it could be a tricky call for the Delhi management to make. But they will know better than focussing solely on Russell, with KKR’s top order capable of batting them out of the game. (Agencies)