Andre Russell’s heroics gives KKR hope of making play-offs

Pune, May 14: Andre Russell’s all-round brilliance theoretically kept Kolkata Knight Riders in contention for a play-off berth as they recorded a comprehensive 54- run victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad in a must-win IPL game on Saturday.
It was Russell’s unbeaten 49 off 28 balls that took KKR to 177 for six in 20 overs after being down and out at 94 for 5.
In reply, SRH were never in the hunt as they huffed and puffed their way to 123 for 8 against a collective bowling effort from Shreyas Iyer’s men with the flamboyant Jamaican finishing with best figures of 3 for 22.
Umesh Yadav (1/19 in 4 overs), Tim Southee (2/23 in 4 overs), Varun Chakravarthy (1/25 in 4 overs) and Sunil Narine (1/34 in 4 overs) — all stuck to their respective game plans with near-perfect executions over after over.
KKR now have 12 points from 13 games with a net run-rate of +0.160 and moved to sixth place.
With Rajasthan Royals (14 from 12) and RCB (14 from 13 games) having chance to move up, even a victory is unlikely to be enough for the Shah Rukh Khan-owned franchise.
For Sunrisers, 10 points from 12 games with a dismal NRR of -0.270 means that even two big wins and 14 points might not be enough after five straight defeats.
SRH’s poor batting show could be attributed to skipper Kane Williamson’s nightmarish season that has yielded only 208 runs in 12 games at an average of less than 19 and a strike-rate of 92.85. Williamson (9 off 17 balls) has been SRH’s weakest link this season.
It was an ordeal for Williamson till Russell bowled one on the stumps to end his misery. Rahul Tripathi (9 off 1 balls) also looked scratchy even as Abhishek Sharma (43 off 28 balls) attacked Sunil Narine, hitting him for two sixes.
It was Tim Southee’s brilliant reflex return catch that ended Tripathi’s innings.
Once Abhishek was dismissed by Varun Chakaravarthy (1/25) and Narine took a fine return catch to dismiss SRH’s big hope Nicholas Pooran (2), there wasn’t much resistance from the rest of the batters.
Earlier, Umran Malik was back in his groove after a few forgettable outings as he ran through KKR’s top-order but Russell along with Sam Billings (34 off 29 balls) added 63 runs for the sixth wicket to give the total a semblance of respectability after KKR were in trouble at 94 for 5.
KKR added 58 runs in the last five overs, mainly due to Russell as he hit three sixes off three full-tosses bowled by off-break bowler Washington Sundar (0/40 in 4 overs). (PTI)

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