Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Nitish Rana was happy that big power hitter Andre Russell had finally come to the party this IPL season, saying he kept “backing” the Jamaican knowing that a match-winning innings was round the corner.
KKR defeated Punjab Kings by five wickets, chasing down the 180-run winning target off the last ball of the innings, with Russell scoring a 23-ball 43 studded with three fours and as many maximums.
Russell punished PBKS quick Sam Curran in the penultimate over of the innings, hitting the England bowler for three sixes before the West Indian was run out, leaving Rinku Singh to score the winning runs.
Rinku smashed a boundary of the last ball to win the match for KKR.
“Ten matches have gone, we were all waiting for that one Russell innings to come. He was one innings away, I kept backing him saying you have done a lot, and you will 100 per cent win us a game,” said Nitish Rana.
Rana also conceded he was angry with his bowlers conceding runs in the last couple of overs to let PBKS score a competitive 179/7.
“This pitch was a feel of home advantage as well. Our bowlers bowled badly at the death, I was angry that we conceded that many because this was a 160-165 run wicket.
Punjab Kings captain Shikhar Dhawan lamented the lack of a quality off-spinner in his side, though leg-spinner Rahul Chahar did bowl a tight spell.
“I feel that we don’t have a good off-spinner. When left-handers come, from one end we have a leg-spinner and at the other end we have a left-arm spinner (Harpreet Brar). So that’s where I feel we are leaking a bit of runs. This wicket was offering turn as well so I feel that’s where we took the hit,” said Shikhar.
Dhawan did sound dejected now that they are staring at relegation.
“Not feeling that great. We lost the game and it was not an easy track to bat on and I feel that we put on a good total. At the end, they played well.
“It was great, phenomenal effort from Arshdeep (Singh) and the way he has bounced back from the last game, all credit goes to him. It was quite interesting that he took the game to the last ball so it was really good,” added Shikhar.