it is Eden Gardens, there is no one better than Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa to steal the show, even when there is a certain Shah Rukh Khan present at the stadium. But on Wednesday in Match 32 of the 2016 Indian Premier League, Andre Russell trumped all of them with a stellar bowling performance that took Kolkata Knight Riders to a thrilling seven-run victory over Kings XI Punjab and also helped KKR go top of the table.
KKR’s very own opening pair of ‘Batman and Robin’ had compiled their fifth 50 plus partnership this season to help their team to a total of 164 for 3 at the Eden Gardens, before Russell proved to be the ‘Superman’ with match figures of 4-0-20-4. With this loss, KXIP crashed to their sixth defeat in right matches, but one positive that they would take away from the game will be the return to form of Glenn Maxwell, who got his team close with 42-ball 68-run knock.
With the equation at 101 required off 60 balls, Maxwell, who has scratched his way through to 23 off 19 balls, found his old self taking Piyush Chawla for a six and four and then milked 17 runs in the next over bowled by Brad Hogg, including two fours and a six.
For only the second time in this year, Maxwell went past the 50-run mark off just 29 balls and one could sense that the ‘Big Show’ was in a mood to go for the kill. He played in the ‘V’ for most part of his innings and when the confidence started to build, he brought out the reverse hits and the scoops to good effect. However, the unorthodox approach eventually led to his downfall as Chwala’s sharp turn got the better of Maxwell, who was going for a reverse sweep, and the umpire raised the dreaded finger after an eternity. KXIP still had Miller but his 18-ball 13-run knock was a real struggle and he went back after missing out on a full toss. When it looked KXIP were down and out, Axar Patel, the hat-trick hero from the previous game, took Russell for two sixes in the 18th over.
Till that point, the West Indian had conceded just 4 runs off his first 16 balls. Morne Morkel leaked 10 in the 19th to make it 12 off 6 balls. Russell had the ball in his hand. Axar took a single off the first ball. Gurkeerat then swatted a block-hole delivery straight back at Russell and the West Indies picked up the ball in his follow through, turned, and threw the ball at the non-striker’s end – all in one motion – and Axar was run-out.
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Game Set Match for KKR. In defence of 164, Russell had provided KKR the perfect start claiming KXIP opener Marcus Stoinis for zero in the first over and Manan Vohra (0) in his second. His first spell read 2-0-3-2.