By Avinash Kr Atish
Pune, May 15 (SocialNews.XYZ) More often than not, one big partnership is enough for a team to win a T20 game and Kolkata Knight Riders batters -- Andre Russell, Sam Billings -- did the same for their team against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 61st match of the IPL 2022.
After winning the toss and opting to bat first, KKR were struggling at 94/5 after 11.3 overs and it seemed that the Shreyas-led side could also be bowled once again in the tournament, but Russell and Billings led their team's fightback on Saturday.
The duo took the cautious approach against Umran Malik, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and T Natarajan for the next few overs but they also hit boundaries whenever they got bad deliveries, taking KKR to 119/5 after 15 overs.
With five overs to go, both Russell and Billings decided to play a bit more aggressively and scored 10, 13 and 9 respectively in the next three overs. The stage was set for KKR batters to take their chances more freely but Bhuvneshwar bowled an excellent 19th over, where he conceded just six runs and took the wicket of Billings.
Both Russell and Billings stitched a partnership of 63 runs for the sixth wicket and ensured their team had a solid total on the board. The decision to bowl Washington Sundar in the last over of the innings backfired for SRH as Russell hit the off-spinner for three sixes and helped KKR finish on 177/6, which eventually proved to be a match-winning total.
Speaking after the game, Andre Russell mentioned that it was a difficult situation when he came out to bat.
"When I went out to bat, when they were bowling into the wicket, it was a bit difficult," said Russell, who got the Player-of-the-Match award for his all-round heroics.
The star all-rounder also spoke about his mindset and preparation for hitting big sixes.
"The mindset is very clear, I practice to go and do that from ball one. The first ball in the nets, I hit for sixes. I get my body ready for any situation, sometimes it might be tough. You have to tough it out at times and stay till the back end, happy tonight," he said.
Talking about batting against Sundar in the last over, the West Indies cricketer said that an offspinner to a right-hander is like a kid in the candy shop.
"Before the last ball of the 19th over was bowled, I said, 'Sunil, try and get a boundary, but let me start the over with the spinner'. Off spinner to a right-hander, it's like a kid in the candy shop. I got full tosses and I put it away. Hard work paid off. Good to contribute in both aspects tonight. I'm just going to keep it going, hopefully we can qualify," he said.
With the convincing 54-run win over SRH, KKR jumped to the sixth spot, gave a huge boost to their net run rate and kept alive their chances of making the play-offs. However, their qualification is not entirely in their own hands.