Andre Russell’s batting position for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) has been debated for the past few seasons. After yet another loss, KKR coach Brendon McCullum shed more light on the team's strategy regarding the Jamaican’s batting position.
On Thursday, against the Delhi Capitals (DC), Andre Russell walked out to bat at No.6 – a position popularly believed to be too low for someone who is the side’s trump card. Coming in during the 11th over, he smashed a 27-ball 45 not out to help KKR post 154. However, the total wasn’t enough to prevent a defeat.
With wickets falling at the other end, the West Indian all-rounder couldn’t express himself as freely as he usually does. Speaking on why KKR management thinks Andre Russell’s position should be strategic, McCullum told the press:
“I had a conversation with Andre Russell at the start of the season. We looked at a lot of stats and numbers. Ideally, with the right platform, beyond 12 overs is what we agreed on. There are times when he has to come in earlier, like today. That allowed him to settle down slightly better, but he couldn’t play with the same freedom because we had fallen into a sort of a hole. But then he powered us to a competitive score.”
It’s up to the other guys to provide Andre Russell with a better platform: Brendon McCullum
With a strike rate of 180 in his IPL career, Andre Russell tops the list of the best strike rates in the tournament's history. So while McCullum believes that the 33-year-old is best utilized after 12 overs, he wants the other batters to provide him with a platform.
McCullum cited the example of KKR’s clash against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in Mumbai last week, where KKR were 31 for five in the sixth over, chasing 221, and Andre Russell kept them in the game with a 22-ball 54 not out. KKR were eventually bowled out for 202. McCullum said:
“Against Chennai Super Kings at Mumbai, the game was so far beyond us by the time he walked in. He had to take the game on, and he has the ability. Ideally, it’s 12 overs onwards when he can do the damage with the least amount of risks.
“So it’s really up to the other guys to provide him with a better platform rather than ask too much from him. He was good tonight and in the last few games. So, looking at the few positives from this loss, his form is certainly one.”
With 163 runs at 27.16 and a strike rate of 155.23, Andre Russell has had a fluctuating season this year and has often struggled for support.
KKR are in fifth spot in the IPL standings with only two wins from their seven matches. They will have to win at least five of their remaining seven games to stand a chance of qualification to the playoffs.