Andre Russell and Nitish Rana almost pulled off a miraculous run chase for the Kolkata Knight Riders when they played Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Eden Gardens on April 19. KKR was asked to score 214 runs to win the game but fell short by 10 runs in the end despite an extremely slow start.
"To lose by 10 runs, it's just two hits away. In the middle period, if we scored a bit faster we would definitely get the runs even with balls to spare," an extremely disappointed Russell opined at the post-match press conference on Friday. "Well batted to Nitish, but this is something that we definitely disappointed and that's why I have a sweet and sour feeling."
KKR had got off to a disastrous start as they lost the wicket of Chris Lynn in the very first over. He was soon followed by Sunil Narine, which prompted Robbie Uthappa to come to the crease and when Shubman Gill was dismissed, Nitish Rana joined KKR's vice-captain. But KKR only reached 44 runs at the end of the 8 overs.
Although Rana, once settled, started forcing the issue, Uthappa's approach was inexplicable. The senior player scored only 9 runs off 20 balls when he got dismissed but the baffling part of his game was that he did not even look the force the issue, allowing the run rate to creep up to 17.5 when Andre Russell walked in.
Talking to the media about whether he should have batted in place of Uthappa at number, Russell nodded and said that KKR must be flexible in their approach. "I believe that," Russell said with a sheepish smile and a finger on his lip, as if not to outrightly question his team management's policy but also take a dig at the same time. "Because I believe that once I'm at the crease, Virat Kohli will bowl the best bowlers to get me out, and those best bowlers will, therefore, have less overs remaining in the back end."
"So even if I score 60 off 25 balls and give the team the early pump, then the type of bowlers like Dale Steyn will have only one over to bowl at the death, or they maybe are even bowled out. So, I think me going to bat early would definitely be good for KKR, but with our make-up as a team, I don't think it's a good time, at the moment. Because for me to bat in the back-end and know what I can do in four or five overs but..." Russell stopped short of saying the obvious.
Rana and Russell had brought KKR back from a seemingly improbable position wherein they required 20 runs per over to touching distance. The two had put on a 118-run stand for the fifth wicket but the valiant effort of both batsmen went in vain as Rana finished on 85 off 46 and Russell was run out on 65 off 25.
It was a wonderful game of cricket to watch and despite the superhuman efforts of Russell, KKR has been falling short in too many games which means the rest of the team has to stand up. Thus, it was understandable why he was upset after the game. KKR will need to now win four out of their last five games to qualify for the playoffs and it will be unfair on Russell if they do not make it.