Former India batsman, Gautam Gambhir opines that had Andre Russell missed a massive opportunity to notch up his maiden IPL hundred and also take Kolkata Knight Riders to an unbelievable victory over the Chennai Super Kings on Wednesday at the Wankhede.
Chasing 221, KKR was blown away in the powerplay losing 5 wickets for just 31 runs. Then Andre Russell played on his vintage knocks to storm his side in the game. The West Indian blasted 54 runs off just 22 balls, laced with 3 fours and 6 gigantic sixes to take the score to 111 in 11 overs.
His innings came to an anti-climatic end when he left a Sam Curran delivery on the leg side thinking it would go for a wide – however, the ball hit the top of leg-stump, giving relief to the CSK bowlers. Dinesh Karthik (40 off 24) and Pat Cummins (66 off 34) continued playing attacking shots to keep the game alive till the last over, but CSK’s total proved 18 runs too much for Eoin Morgan’s side.
Gautam Gambhir reckons KKR could have gunned down the total, on a flat Wankhede pitch, had Russell just defended the ball.
“The way he was hitting the ball, I’m sure, he knew deep inside that had he played for another four-five overs, he knew that an off-spinner would never come on to bowl till the time Russell was on the crease,” Gautam Gambhir told ESPNCricinfo.
“He had already smashed them for 24 in the first over, so I’m sure on his way back to the dressing room, he must be thinking that he lost a golden opportunity to score his hundred and also to finish off his game on his own, by the 16th, 17th overs.
“You don’t get such opportunities often because you don’t really play much at the Wankhede. He was smashing it. I’m sure he must be regretting it. Had he just defended that ball, KKR would have probably won that game,” he added.
I think it was a bluff, great thinking by CSK and Curran: Gautam Gambhir
The former KKR skipper also praised the Super Kings and Sam Curran for dismissing Russell by bluffing him. Gautam Gambhir pointed out that before Curran’s over, Shardul Thakur bowled full and outside the off-stump to Russell to keep him quiet, and Curran had also set the same field.
However, the Englishman bluffed Russell by sliding one on the leg-stump, which the batsman wouldn’t have expected; Russell not only didn’t try to defend it, instead, he left it completely thinking it would go for a wide, and was bowled.
“For me I think it was a bluff. I thought it was great thinking because the entire field was set as if he was going to bowl wide outside off stump. And Russell probably was preparing for that because Shardul Thakur kept bowling outside off and that too those full-length balls.
“So he just probably attacked the leg stump and that’s where it looked weird. He ended up leaving that because he was not even prepared for it,” the two-time IPL winning skipper explained.