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“I didn’t get out being Dre Russ” – How a lapse against Rashid turned Russell into a beast

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

In a chat with kkr.in, West Indian superstar Andre Russell shed light on how he failed to play according to the match situation in Qualifier 2 against Rashid Khan of SRH in 2018, leaving him infuriated. He, however, bounced back in style with a season to remember in 2019.

The self-belief and confidence that Russell carries around is enviable, to say the least. Filled with immense faith in his skills, the player has time and again gushed about how undaunting any target in any ground is for him. However, human beings are prone to failures, and Russell, despite all his superhuman feats, is no different.

The sight of the burly player looking on in anguish after he was dismissed around his legs by Sam Curran in IPL 2021 – leaving the ball expecting it to go past leg-stump – in what was a complete misjudgment from Russell is still fresh in memories. Playing at the Wankhede Stadium against Chennai Super Kings, his team Kolkata Knight Riders was in a spot of bother at 31-5 chasing a mammoth 221, before a rescue act by Russell and Dinesh Karthik ignited life into the game.

The all-rounder, who endured a poor run in the 2020 edition of the tournament, scoring just 117 runs in 10 games with a highest score of just 25, looked in his elements against a rejuvenated CSK line-up this year, smashing six sixes and three fours in his knock of 54 off just 22 deliveries. However, just when it appeared that KKR could pull off a rescue act, Russell’s ‘brain fade’ moment against Curran led to his dismissal. The side eventually lost the game by 18 runs.

As he sat still on the steps of the Wankhede, distraught writ all over his face, his mind would have raced back to the Qualifier 2 game against Sunrisers Hyderabad back in 2018, when yet another uncharacteristic incident involving him left his team in the lurch.

Needing 57 off 33 deliveries to seal a spot in the IPL finals against CSK, Russell was unable to see his team through as he was sent back for just three off seven balls when he tried to cut Rashid Khan. The delivery turned back towards the batsman sharply to find his outside edge. KKR, who had lost a well set Chris Lynn 14 deliveries ago, lost wickets in quick succession as they slipped from 87-1 in 8.3 overs to 160-9 in 20 to hand SRH a win by 14 runs at the packed Eden Gardens.

Russell reminisced about the incident in the video shared by KKR and stated how he was overawed by the occasion, then. “I didn’t get out being Dre Russ. I started to overthink the game. That was actually a ball I could have put away, and that’s the moment where I knew I had messed up. If I was still batting at the back end, we would have won comfortably.”

“I realized (from that incident that) if a bowler feels you are scared to lift your bat, they are gonna be all over you. You have to back off a bowler by playing shots sometimes,” he said.

The player managed to script a fine turnaround in the very next edition of the season, though, smashing 510 runs in 14 games at a strike rate of a mammoth 204.81. He was at the forefront of a number of rescue acts for KKR, with his cameos and never-say-die attitude helping him earn the MVP award for the year. Notably, Russell came out all guns blazing against Rashid in 2019 and 2020, scoring runs at a strike rate of 166.66 against the spinner.

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