Kolkata: Admitting they weren’t “alert enough” on the field, Kings XI Punjab coach Mike Hesson admitted that Andre Russell’s whirlwind 17-ball 48 in the first innings tipped the game heavily in Kolkata Knight Riders’ favour.
“The game changed in the 17th over. Obviously we had a plan for Russell that we executed well, but we weren’t quite alert enough in the field, and that’s where the game changed,” Hesson said at the post-match press conference on Wednesday night.
Put in to bat, KKR posted a mammoth 218/4 to which Punjab had no reply, losing by 28 runs.
Besides half centuries from Nitish and Robin Uthappa, Russell came in to bat at the back end of the innings and like he usually does, took the Punjab bowlers to the cleaners.
But that happened only after the Jamaican got a second life in the 17th over when Shami castled him, and the umpire called it a no-ball as Punjab had only three fielders inside the circle instead of the mandatory four. After that, KKR made 56 runs in 19 balls.
“It’s a fine line when you’re bowling to Andre Russell. He’s a gamechanger.
“We had that little bit of jubilation and then things turned pretty quickly (with the no-ball) and we weren’t quite able to turn the last few overs for 12 or 14 runs. Instead we ended up giving away 22 or 24 runs, and it probably changed the game,” Hesson conceded.
Asked if skipper R. Ashwin ‘Mankading’ Rajasthan Royals batsman Jos Buttler played in the back of their minds, Hesson said: “We were very focused quickly afterwards, in terms of preparing for KKR. So that’s very much been our focus.”
Punjab handed a debut to Varun Chakravarthy on Wednesday, however, the little known leg-spinner was hit for 25 runs, Sunil Narine accounting for 24 of them, in the bowler’s very first over.
It was Varun’s first game, he was nervous like anyone else playing their first game.
“And I thought the way he came back in the second and third over was excellent. And it will give him and us a lot of confidence. You know, playing your first game in front of a crowd like this is difficult. And Narine’s obviously going to hit you from ball one. I think he will learn to settle down a bit quicker. But I’m still very pleased with the way he came back,” Hesson said backing the debutant who leaked 35 runs in three overs but took the wicket of Rana.
Punjab, who beat Royals in their opening game, made four changes to the winning team. Quizzed about the reason, the coach explained: “Nicholas Pooran was injured so that’s a straight swap, since David Miller’s a big player for us. And then we felt on that surface, someone who can bowl back-of-a-length like Hardus Viljoen instead of Sam Curran was the way to go. And Hardus bowled really nicely, so those were two big changes.
“And with Andrew Tye coming back in, being a key player, we had to make a decision on overseas players. That’s why Varun Chakravarthy came in instead of Mujeeb.”