“It was such a relief to see him hit so clearly. Simply outstanding hitting – it was Russell muscle for serious,” said Kolkata Knight Riders’ captain Shreyas Iyer at the post-match press Conference.
KKR were at one stage reeling at 51/4 in their run-chase, but Russell’s blistering half-century, which included 8 sixes, turned the game on its head as Kolkata won with more than five overs to spare.
Punjab Kings were bowled out for a modest 137 in 18.2 overs as Umesh Yadav bagged four wickets for 23 runs. He was named the ‘Player of the Match’ award.
“I was just having a chat with him (Yadav). He said he’s getting older but I told him he’s getting fitter and stronger. He’s been putting in the hard yards at practice. I see him in the gym every time I go. He’s hungry and wants the team to win. He’s been a great colleague to work with,” said Shreyas.
Punjab started off aggressively despite losing their captain Mayank Agarwal in the very first over to Umesh Yadav but Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s 31-run knock off just nine balls helped the 2015 finalists reach the 50-run mark in just 4.4 overs.
“We were stunned – we didn’t expect them to come so hard, especially (after) losing a wicket in the first over. But when I saw them timing it so well, I thought I could as well,” said Shreyas.
The two-time champions KKR got wickets at regular intervals and did not allow any partnership to flourish.
“We got early wickets after the Powerplay, so my mindset was if I get wickets as much as possible… my plan was to get the best bowlers when they had hard-hitters coming in,” the KKR captain added.
𝘼𝙖𝙜 𝙡𝙖𝙜𝙖 𝙙𝙞 𝙝𝙖𝙞 𝙐𝙢𝙚𝙨𝙝 𝙗𝙝𝙖𝙞 𝙖𝙖𝙥𝙣𝙚! 🔥@y_umesh #KKRHaiTaiyaar #KKRvPBKS #IPL2022 https://t.co/tHbiOjrLld
— KolkataKnightRiders (@KKRiders) 1648835311000
Sunil Narine and Varun Chakaravarthy bowled eight overs among themselves and conceded only 37 runs, with Chakaravarthy conceding just 14 in his four overs.
“They make my job very easy on the field. They come up with their own strategies and in the team meetings, they already know their plans. They know what they’re doing,” said Shreyas.
With this win, KKR have now won two consecutive matches and will next lock horns against Mumbai Indians on April 6.