Russell Factor Plays A Big Role On DC-KKR Clash > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Russell factor looms large over DC-KKR clash
In the three days break that the Delhi Capitals got since losing their first home game of the season, a considerable amount of time would've been spent watching and re-watching Andre Russell's two exceptional innings so far. The IPL has advanced so much in the 12 years that margins between success and failure are smaller than ever and are defined by how well teams can understand and ace match-ups.
Up against Russell on Saturday, will be Delhi Capitals' Chris Morris, who will slot into the spot that belonged to Keemo Paul in the first couple of matches. Delhi Capitals will hope Morris can have an equally devastating effect with the bat as the West Indian, but it is his bowling - at the death - that will be so much more crucial.
No wonder then, the South African all-rounder spent practice session on the eve of the game nailing down yorkers - both the wide outside the offstump yorker and the one angled in on the leg stump to cramp. Accuracy in training is one thing, but to pull it off with Russell intent on sending every ball into the stands a different ball game.
Already this season, Russell's had such an impact on the bowlers tasked with dealing with him in the death, that the element of surprise has gone out of the window against him. Even Russell knows the most obvious weapon of choice against him has been the yorker, sometimes bowled from around the stumps. The West Indian thus started standing deep in the crease, putting himself in the best position to obliterate even those attempted yorkers that have been erred only by a fraction.
Bowlers have still had to resort to the risk-laden option of targeting the blockhole, simply because dealing with any other length has been bread-and-butter for Russell. His ploy of clearing the front leg and taking a massive swipe at the ball has brought favourable results on most occasions. Even the bouncer that can cramp batsmen for room has been futile with mistimed top-edges sailing over the fence for sixes.
Morris will have his task cut out, but the South African reckoned he'd have to trust his training, have a thick skin and even 'look like a duck'.
"Andre Russ is an absolute genius at hitting the cricket ball, it's pretty simple as that. End of the day, I think it is going to be a case of he misses and I hit. Russell is an unbelievably good batter and he's dangerous. I've always said to people I look like a duck... a duck swimming on the water is nice and calm but underneath their feet are kicking like this.
"I might look calm and collective, but inside my brain's working overtime. You just trust your training. I've practiced my whole life to bowl yorkers, I've practiced my whole life to bowl bouncers so it's basically I've got to trust my training and hopefully at the end of the day, he makes a mistake," Morris said.
"You're going to get hit, you're going to go for sixes. So end of the day, whoever's got the thickest skin is going to come out on top. So as a fast bowler when you're at the game you know that one of your bowlers are going to get hit today, if not two of them going for 50-plus. The sooner you accept that, the better cricketer you'll be. If it's your day, make it count. If it's not, something will come up tomorrow. You just crack onto your next one," Morris said.
For all the focus that Russell has hogged in this week, KKR's batting has been about so much more than the No.5 finisher. And therein lies KKR's success. In both the fixtures, the carpet was laid out for Russell to do what he does best only because Nitish Rana and Robin Uthappa built KKR's innings through the middle with two solid partnerships - 80 off 58 against SRH and 110 off 66 against KXIP. In fact in the second game, Uthappa was already batting on a half-century, but played to the situation and turned over the strike to Russell to maximise the impact at the end, even if that meant his 50-ball 67 flew under the radar.
"At that point in time when Russ was batting, it was a no-brainer for me to give one of the best hitters in the world, strike. Inspite of me batting past 50, inspite of me knowing what the bowlers are doing, you have to do the sensible thing," Robin Uthappa said.
Uthappa also reckoned KKR have realised seen the importance of making sure that when Russell walks out to bat towards the end of the innings, there's a set batsman at the other end which can give him the freedom to tee off from the first ball he faces. It works perfectly then for the franchise that they have batsmen like Nitish Raina, Robin Uthappa and even Shubman Gill who hasn't had a proper look in with the bat as yet, who can work towards setting the game up perfectly for Russell.
"He [Russell] plays a very important role, so obviously a lot is dependent on him and how he comes off. His role is extremely important, he understands the impact value that he has for the team, going from like 180 to 215, like [in] the previous game.
"There's an impact that he creates in those last 4-5 overs. It's important for him to have that sense of freedom. It would be great for him to be in a situation where he has a batsman batting with him so as to have the freedom to go out there and go after each ball that he faces. And he understands that as well.
"I think the fact that he led Jamaica Tallawahs in the CPL has given him a sense of responsibility towards the team and he looks at himself as a senior statesman in the group and wants to make every outing of his count. He understands the value he brings to the side," Uthappa said.
Uthappa felt there is also a need to plan for the rare event of a Russell failure, which is inevitable at some point - when the law of averages catches up - in a long tournament like IPL.
"Yes you need a balance. In the last game, I think my strike was about 134-135 and you understand that that's the average you want to be playing at. Say for instance, if Russ had gotten out and it wasn't a no ball, then I'd have had to take the onus on myself to score those runs so I would've played more aggressively at that time," Uthappa said.
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