Former Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Gautam Gambhir said that if West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell is not fit to bowl then Shakib Al Hasan should continue in the team.
Russell sustained a hamstring injury during a match against Chennai Super Kings in Abu Dhabi where he limped off the field. Since then Russell is recovering from his injury and according to KKR chief mentor David Hussey, the all-rounder is pushing hard to be fit for the playoffs.
“He had a fitness test yesterday. I think he is maybe a game away so I think he will be pushing hard to get back in for the final [playoffs]. Which will be a huge boost not only for us but the competition. He is world-class and he provides lots of entertainment,” Hussey said.
If Andre Russell doesn’t bowl, he doesn’t come in: Gautam Gambhir
Shakib has played for KKR in the last two matches as their fourth overseas player and has picked two wickets so far and is yet to bat for the team. Gambhir said that he would pick the Bangladesh star all-rounder ahead of Russell in case the latter cannot bowl against RCB in the eliminator match.
“No, if he doesn’t bowl, he doesn’t come in. What wrong has Shakib done? For me, if Russell is fit and he’s willing to do deliver in both the departments, batting and bowling, I’d pick him. But if he says that he can only bat and can’t bowl, then I’d probably go with Shakib because you need the sixth bowling option against a batting lineup like RCB,” Gambhir told ESPNcricinfo.
“You can’t just go with four or five bowlers with the part-time bowling of Nitish Rana and Venkatesh Iyer. That’s walking on the edge and you won’t want that, especially in a playoff game,” he added.
KKR almost qualified for IPL 2021 playoffs
Russell has been brilliant with the ball since the IPL 2021 resumed as he bowled an excellent spell of 3/9 against RCB where he got the better of AB de Villiers on the first ball with a toe-crushing yorker.
Kolkata Knight Riders have nearly sealed the fourth spot for the playoffs with a clinical 86-run win against Rajasthan Royals on Thursday in Sharjah.
KKR boosted its net run rate +0.587 after that victory and five-time IPL champions Mumbai Indians will have to play out of the box against SRH to edge past Eoin Morgan & co in the top four.