IPL 2019 | Russell Makes Kings XI Punjab Pay After Lucky Escape

Karthik Lakshmanan | Updated: March 28, 2019, 4:33 PM IST
IPL 2019 | Russell Makes Kings XI Punjab Pay After Lucky Escape

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Kings XI Punjab perhaps spent the entire Tuesday (March 26) coming up with plans to dismiss Andre Russell. It's easy to imagine the analytical minds of Mike Hesson and R Ashwin brainstorming to try and prevent an onslaught like the one Sunrisers Hyderabad faced the other day.

Target him with spin early on, like Kumar Sangakkara suggested on Star Sports ahead of the match? Or test him with bouncers? Each option is laden with risks that could prove costly.

Punjab, though, arrived at the best possible option. The age old yorker! No batsman is good enough to escape a well executed yorker. Russell falling over and being bowled by Mustafizur Rahman's pinpoint yorker a couple of seasons back is not a sight many would forget. Punjab decided to try an encore. They didn't have a left-arm pacer but they did have Mohammed Shami, who went around the wickets to create that angle.

The plan worked like gold. Shami's first two balls to Russell were nearly perfect yorkers, which the batsman could only drill to long-on for singles. And then came the perfect yorker: Almost 140 kmph, dead straight, and too quick for Russell to jam it down. The stumps were disturbed, and the danger-man was gone. Or was he?

The biggest of wickets was denied by one the silliest mistakes possible at the most crucial of times. Punjab had only three fielders inside the ring. Neither the captain nor the bowler, or any other fielder, had noticed it.

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Thus, Russell lived on. He was on three off five at the time of the 'dismissal'. He ended on 48 off 17.

Shami bowled five more balls to Russell after that with very different fortunes. They read: 1 6 6 6 4. There was no change in the plan, but the difference was that Russell was now well aware of what was happening.

Shami stayed around the stumps attempting yorkers, but this time, Russell was prepared. He stayed deep in the crease, converting the attempted yorkers into half volleys. And then his brute force took over.

Apart from his obvious power, Russell's biggest strength is the areas he targets. He has hit nine sixes in two games, all in the 'V' or cow-corner area. There are hardly any fancy strokes or attempts. His range isn't even as wide as some other batsmen. His plans are as clear as they can get. Yet, bowlers struggle to stop him, even with the best of plans.

It's in fact a trait common with most Windies T20 stars. Think Chris Gayle. Think Kieron Pollard. Think Evin Lewis. Or even the latest - Shimron Hetmyer. These aren't the batsmen who hit all around the park. They target the traditional hitting zones, and do so comfortably.

The problem for Shami on Wednesday was that not once did he try Plan B. No slower balls, no bouncers. He was perhaps too frustrated after the silly mistake. By the end of it, though, the game had slipped away thanks to yet another Russell blitz.
First Published: March 28, 2019, 12:09 AM IST
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