Andre Russell was the man of the match for Kolkata last night after he blasted 70 runs from 31 balls to help beat Punjab in the IPL clash. Image Credit: Twitter / Kolkata Knight Riders

Mumbai: Kolkata Knight Riders’ batter Andre Russell said he backed his ability to clear the field as the big hitter went on a six-hitting spree to help rescue his team from a precarious position and lead them to victory in a IPL 2022 match against Punjab Kings here last night.

Chasing a modest target after pacer Umesh Yadav had claimed 4/23 to restrict Punjab Kings to a paltry 137 all out after being asked to bat first, the Knight Riders were in trouble at 4-51 at one stage before Russell and Sam Billings raised 90 runs for the unfinished fifth-wicket partnership to guide KKR to a six-wicket victory at the Wankhede Stadium.

Russell blasted eight sixes and two fours as he remained unbeaten on 70 while Billings finished with 24 not out to seal KKR’s second victory in their third match in IPL 2022.

Russell said he knew what he could do in that situation and therefore told Billings that he was going to go after bowling.

“Feeling awesome, man. This is the reason why we play the game. In that position, I know what I can do. It was good to have someone at the crease like Sam (Billings). Once I started sweating, I told him that I’m gonna go. I backed my ability. I’m happy to do whatever the team requires,” Russell said after the match.

The West Indies player said that as he was not given much bowling, he was happy to contribute with the bat.

“I’m looking to bowl in the death. We have a good amount of bowlers and a few guys that can slip in one or two as well. If I bowl two, at least I can feel like an allrounder. But some games, I may not bowl a ball so I’m happy to take the batting as well and hit some sixes - do whatever I can do to contribute to the team.”

He decided to see through the spinners and attack the seamers.

Ball not spinning

“We were a couple of wickets down and behind me was Sunil and then the other bowlers. I told Sam ‘listen, let’s bat a few overs and see what happens. But I realised the left-arm orthodox (Harpreet Brar) wasn’t spinning the ball. Chahar was bowling extremely well and the ball was gripping so we didn’t want to take much chance against him but I knew we’d wait on the seamers and it would get easier,” he said.

Billings said the catch Tim Southee took to dismiss Kagiso Rabada during the Punjab Kings innings was crucial. Rabada was going great guns and had blasted a 16-ball 25 and could have added a few more runs if he had continued. Rabada miscued a skier and Southee ran a few metres before completing a one-handed catch tumbling down.

“It was a great catch and very crucial as they could have got 15-20 more runs if he had gone on or if they had batted 20 overs. Southee has a great pair of hands and he is a good fielder,” the wicket-keeper batter said.