Kolkata Knight Riders’ premier all-rounder Andre Russell is happy that Rinku Singh has become the team’s latest heartthrob and his only advice to his “brother” is to “stay humble”.
Having grabbed headlines by smashing five sixes in a row to seal an incredible victory over reigning champions Gujarat Titans, the 25-year-old pulled off a dramatic win with a last-ball four against Punjab Kings, amid boisterous chants of ‘Rinku, Rinku’ in the IPL here on Monday.
“I’m very happy for him and he is a good friend of mine, a very funny guy. I love him as a brother. I just want him to keep doing what he is doing, and keep being consistent,” player of the match Russell said after their five-wicket win that kept their slender playoff hopes alive.
Returning to form, Russell smashed a 23-ball 42 in a 54-run partnership with Rinku, but the Jamaican big-hitter failed to finish and was run-out in a last over drama.
Needing two off the last delivery, a calm-headed Rinku was not bogged down by the atmosphere at the packed Eden Gardens.
There was a sense of deja vu for Russell who has gone through similar situations and his advice for Rinku is to stay humble.
“It’s been going good for him so I’ve been encouraging whenever I get a chance to talk to him I tell him to stay humble.
“It does not matter how many people are shouting Russell, Russell, Russell, I always stayed humble because when it gets into your head, that’s when you start to lose it,” he said.
Russell said he had full faith in the uncapped Indian to get the job done as he ran for a non-existent single after missing a wide yorker from Arshdeep Singh.
Needing to defend six, Arshdeep was at his frugal best and had given away just four runs from five deliveries before the run out.
“Definitely in any other game, with any other batter I’m not sure if I would have run. I’ve never really done those things before. I would back myself to bat till the last delivery and get the job done.
“But when you have a batter like Rinku at the other end and who has been successful in the last few games for us, I was definitely confident.
“He is just a fearless player, wherever you bowl he has a shot to counter that. I told him we need you and we need you at this point. He said, ‘big man no worries’, so happy days.”
Rinku has been a revelation for the depleted KKR side this season after regular skipper Shreyas Iyer pulled out to treat his troubled back.
Russell said the key to Rinku’s success is his ability to stay calm in any situation.
“The key to what I’ve seen that is going well for Rinku is he’s very calm. When you are batter, you have to have an open mind and be relaxed. You can’t expect only a full pitch delivery. You have to expect all kinds of deliveries — a slower one, slower wide ball, a yorker, a short one.”
“Rinku gets into a position from where he can face any delivery and have a shot for it. That’s the key to his success. His technique is very simple.”
Russell also went on to hail his West Indian teammate Sunil Narine who is under intense pressure after picking just one wicket in eight matches.
Narine returned wicket-less again (4-0-29-0), but Russell pointed out that his tidy figures helped KKR to restrict PBKS for a modest 179/7, after Shikhar Dhawan opted to bat.
“Sunil going for under-30 was a very good spell. At a time, most teams are going 200-plus with batters smashing hard at every bowler, we did very well today. It was a total team effort. I’m very, very grateful.”