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IPL2019: Did Dinesh Karthik miss a trick in his usage of Andre Russell?

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Andre Russell (picture courtesy: BCCI/iplt20.com)
Andre Russell (picture courtesy: BCCI/iplt20.com)

Kolkata Knight Riders were facing Mumbai Indians in the 56th match of IPL 2019. At stake was a place in the playoffs for KKR. Their season had been held together by a mammoth performance from Andre Russell.

Russell had single-handedly won them a bunch of matches, destroying the opposition bowling regularly. He had mentioned that he wanted to bat up the order to give himself more time. And the rest of the batsmen all looked out of form.

Chris Lynn got out in the 9th over with the score just 56. Who did Karthik send in? Himself, not Russell. He and Robin Uthappa then batted the next 26 balls for 16 runs.

By the time Russell got a chance to come in, the odds were stacked heavily against KKR. And Russell got out for a second-ball duck.

Karthik's explanation in the post match conference for this was: "We shouldn't depend on Russell all the time."

Compare this approach with two other case studies:

David Warner opened for Sunrisers Hyderabad and was the highest scorer in the IPL by far. In 12 matches he scored 692 runs, which is more than 50 runs ahead of any other batsman. He made sure he maximized his form and potential, and gave his team a blazing start in every match. This ensured SRH won plenty of their matches.

Hardik Pandya was the key finisher for Mumbai Indians this IPL. He came in around the 15th over and batted till the end, taking Mumbai's score from a decent one to an excellent one. Mumbai ensured he came in at a specific over irrespective of the number of wickets that had fallen. They wanted him to bat for around 15 balls and score a quick-fire 35.

How did the three teams end up?

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SRH and MI qualified for the playoffs. KKR didn't.

Karthik missed a trick in the way he used Russell. A T20 innings lasts just 120 balls, and you want your best batsman to play most of them.

In normal circumstances, you would expect your top 3 to give a quick solid platform for someone like Russell to come in at the end and maximize the score. But when your top order fails, it is imperative for your key in-form batsman to be out there scoring runs for your team and giving you the best chance of winning the match.

Russell batting from the 8th or 9th over in each match, especially towards the later stages of the tournament, would have given them the best chance of a win.

But Karthik demanded more of others. He refused to use the simplest option available to him.

He missed the playoffs.

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