Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) head coach Jacques Kallis has heaped praise on two-time Indian Premier League (IPL) champions' fighting spirit, saying his team will never give up even if they are put under pressure.
The legendary all-rounder, who had played for the franchise between 2011 and 2014, also lauded captain Dinesh Karthik for his ability to keep things in control in the middle overs and his match-saving knock along with teenager Shubman Gill in Wednesday's Eliminator against Rajasthan Royals.
"DK (Dinesh Karthik) has been superb in controlling the middle order and the middle overs throughout the tournament and, once again, Shubman Gill showed that he is a class player with the valuable ability to read the match situation and play accordingly. Normally we put that down to experience but he's only 18," Kallis wrote in his column for The Times of India.
"Once again the most pleasing aspect of Wednesday's victory against Rajasthan was the way we fought when it looked like we were in trouble, whether it was being 24 for three or when they reached 100 for one. This team simply does not know when to give up, and I trust they never will."
KKR were in a tricky situation after losing two matches on the bounce to Mumbai Indians earlier this month. A 102-run defeat at home in the first outing against Rohit Sharma's men and the following 31-run loss not just dented their Net Run Rate but also their spirits.
However, Karthik's men showed tremendous composure when they fought back to win three on the trot and qualify for the playoffs.
KKR's character was put to test once again on Wednesday when they lost early wickets against the Royals. However, skipper Karthik (38-ball 52) and Gill (17-ball 28) stitched a crucial 54-run stand before Andre Russell tore into the RR bowlers and collected 49 runs from 25 balls.
The Royals, at 109 for 1, were cruising towards the target before the spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla got the crucial wickets of Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson. Young pacer Prasidh Krishna then made life difficult for the new batsmen as RR eventually fell 25 runs short of the target.
Russell a remarkable cricketer: Kallis
Meanwhile, Kallis also lauded Russell's ability to score runs on all conditions and labelled him a remarkable cricketer.
Russell, who was retained by the Knight Riders, has repaid the trust shown in him by finishing off games for the franchise throughout the season.
In 15 matches, the big-hitting West Indies all-rounder has smashed 313 runs at a remarkable strike rate of 190.85.
"Russ (Russell) showed how dangerous he can be and, although some people may still have thought we were a few runs light, when he was doing his thing in the last four overs I always thought he was putting us not just back on course but slightly ahead of the game," the South African tactician said.
"It was a tough wicket to bat on but he is a remarkable cricketer."
KKR will now face table-toppers Sunrisers Hyderabad in the must-win Qualifier 2 on Friday, May 25 at the Eden Gardens. Notably, the visitors are heading into the game on the back of a close defeat to Chennai Super Kings, who have progressed to the final.