'Russell played a great knock. He took the game away from us'
Andre Russell's mayhem in the final overs gave Kolkata Knight Riders a dramatic six-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in their opening Indian Premier League fixture, on Sunday, and the visiting side's leg-spinner Rashid Khan said his bowlers could not have done much against the rampaging Jamaican.
Russell smashed a 19-ball 49 to set up the win for KKR and spoil David Warner's (85 off 53 balls) scintillating IPL comeback. 53 runs were needed off the last three overs and the explosive Jamaican blew away the Sunrisers with his power hitting in the final overs.
"Russell played a great knock. He took the game away from us. He played all the shots, the bowlers did not bowl bad deliveries but he just smashed them," Khan said at the post-match news conference.
"It's just the start of the tournament. We did really well in our department. We just couldn't finish well in the last three overs and that happens in T20 cricket. Hopefully we will try and not repeat the same mistakes and go back stronger and play well at home next."
After Warner got out, the Sunrisers' run-rate slowed down a bit but Khan said they had a competitive total.
"180-plus was a good total. Usually at Eden, 170 plus is a good total and can be defended. The bowling line up that we have, it was not like we scored less or batted badly. We just could not finish well and that happens."
Awestruck by Russell's knock, KKR top-order batsman Nitish Rana (68 off 47 balls) said: "I cannot describe his batting in words. It was unbelievable batting."
"In 18 balls we needed 53 runs and we won the match with two balls to spare. That's how capable he is. The game plan was: whatever we needed, we would leave it to Russell and that worked."
Rana chose not to take the review after being trapped by Khan and he said it was a deliberate ploy with the big-hitting Russell batting in full flow at the other end.
"I decided not to take the DRS because I wanted to keep the review for Russell. This win was very important for us, especially at the start," he said.