Five times Russell took us on an Orbit Tour in the IPL
There is a consistent Big Gun in Kolkata Knight Riders’ arsenal that fires deliveries straight into orbit. When he hits, the ball covers astronomical distances and mostly never returns back to earth. No prizes for guessing, we are talking about Andre Russell, aka Muscle Russell! The Jamaican superman has treated KKR fans with many unforgettable innings and we just fail to find adjectives at times to describe his gravity-defying hitting prowess. Yet to the best of our capacity, we have tried to pick five memorable innings from the last two seasons when our Big Man took us on an Orbit tour.
88* off 36 against CSK – 2018
This was a night when all hell broke loose. We didn’t win the match despite Dre Russ’ gigantic strokeplay. But the Chennai crowd and the world certainly saw one of Andre’s best ever innings in the IPL. Our Big Man’s thunderous hitting, that included 11 sixes, led KKR to post a massive 203-run target.
The Jamaican didn’t spare any bowler from his onslaught, not even his countrymate DJ Bravo. Do you remember that 105m monster six off Bravo that landed out of the park? We still vividly remember Shah Rukh Khan’s priceless expression. He couldn’t take his eyes off the ball before it disappeared into thin air.
Dre Russ’ first 50 runs came off 26 balls at a strike rate of 203.85. Not quite a big deal for a player of his stature, right? But what followed in the next few balls was an absolute massacre for CSK, especially for Bravo. Out of the 38 runs that he plundered off those 10 balls with a humungous strike rate of 350, 20 of them came from Bravo’s 19th over that included three back-to-back sixes!
This was our Big Man’s highest IPL score. Even though the eventual outcome of the match wasn’t in KKR’s favour, the night has remained special for all the KKR fans.
48* off 13 against RCB - 2019
Match 17 of IPL 2019: A sudden Adrenaline rush enveloped Chinnaswamy Stadium and RCB got “Russelled”!
When the Big Man walked in, KKR needed 67 runs off 26 balls. Dinesh Karthik got dismissed soon after and RCB was clearly in the driver’s seat, inching closer to a much-needed win. But they forgot that they were being chased by a Panther who absolutely loves to hunt down! It took him exactly 13 balls to throw team Royal Challengers and the Bangalore crowd into a frenzy.
It was the 18th over and the asking rate was hovering over 17 RPO. Russell took around 4 balls to first find his connection with the bat. But Md Siraj’s beamer woke up the giant in him. He pummelled him for a huge six over the mid-wicket off the No ball. Siraj couldn’t bowl the rest of the over as it was the second over-waist delivery of the over. Now, at hindsight, he might feel that he was lucky enough to be taken off the over. Because what ensued thereafter was history!
He tonked another couple of sixes off Marcus Stoinis who had come to complete Siraj’s over. The juggernaut continued even in the next over as Russell tamed Tim Southee with absolute flogging! With four sixes and a boundary in that over, Russell plundered 28 runs off him in 5 balls and brought KKR to level RCB’s total of 205 runs. That night KKR won with 5 balls to spare and Russell won the admiration of everyone present in the ground, including team supremo Shah Rukh Khan. SRK later on tweeted and called for celebrations to honour the ‘CHAMPION’.
41 of 12 against DD – 2018
When we were kids, we used to often hear from the experts that cricket was more about timing and less about power. We believed in it for a long time. And then T20 happened. And then Russell Muscle happened. The man showed us that timing and power go hand-in-hand and when combined, it can shred apart any bowling attack.
Throwback to Match No. 13 of IPL 2018; the evening pack at Eden Gardens was eager to have a rollercoaster ride and Dre Russ is mostly not the one to disappoint. His 41-run knock was all about sixes, sixes and sixes – six sixes to be precise. There was not a single boundary in his entire knock! Mohammed Shami was at the receiving end of all the piling miseries as the Big Man clobbered 40 runs out of those 41 off Shami’s two overs. We still can’t get over that bludgeoning over the mid-wicket boundary which landed 102 metres away from the 22 yards! And we also can’t get enough of that six that followed next from his bat. A completely miscued shot, still sailing over the boundary! Now we know why power is as important as timing is in modern day cricket!
62 off 28 vs DC – IPL 2019
This was a special match indeed as Russell completed his 1000 runs in the IPL, that too by hitting a maximum! A wider full-length delivery from Sandeep Lamichhane came off Dre Russ’ bat at a lightning speed to sail over the stands. Soon after what followed gave us jitters and a sheer chill went down our spine. Russell was hit bang on the left shoulder by Harshal Patel’s beamer and he was knocked down. The sight of the Big Man lying flat on the ground was heart-wrenching. But the way this man stood his ground to do what he does the best multiplied everyone’s respect for him. KKR lost that match in the Super Over but the gigantic hitting of Dre Russ despite a bruised shoulder was a treat to the eyes. Out of those 62 runs, he scored 52 runs in boundaries and sixes that night (6x6s, 4x4s).
Russell walked in when KKR was on 59/5. Losing half the side by the 10th over for just 64 runs, with the run rate just about 6 RPO, Andre had his task cut out. He took on the spinners and pacers alike and raced to his 50 in just 23 balls. Courtesy his 28-ball 62 and a strong partnership with skipper Dinesh Karthik (95 runs), KKR added 121 runs off the last 10 overs to post 185 on the board. Russell also received the Orange cap for being the highest run getter at the end of the innings.
49* off 19 against SRH - 2019
Sunrisers Hyderabad set a pretty steep target (182) for KKR in Match No. 2 of IPL 2019. Our Hulk walked in at No. 5 when the team needed 87 off 44 balls to win. Nitish Rana was hitting the ball well and got some quick runs before falling for 68 off 47 balls.
Still needing 64 off 27 balls with the asking rate soaring over 14 RPO, we expected Russell to pound everything that came his way. But to our surprise, this was one of his slowest starts. He showed extreme respect to Rashid Khan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the first two overs he faced. Shubman Gill on the other side was new at the crease as well. The anxious crowd at Eden Gardens must have bitten off half of their nails when the score board flashed Andre Russell 9 runs n.o. off 7 balls.
The tail of the firecracker was already set on fire; all we had to do was to wait for it to start exploding. Siddharth Kaul came in to bowl the 18th over and the beast in Dre Russ unleashed. With two 6s, a boundary and a few singles, Russell and Gill minted 19 runs off the over. The fireworks that had started went on for the next two overs as well as the Caribbean powerhouse showed no mercy to Bhuvneshwar this time. The over stood – 4, 6, 4, 0, 6, 1 – and the crowd stood to show respect to the man who brought us inching closer to yet another successful chase. Even though it was Gill who finished off the chase in style with two over boundaries in the last over, Russell’s blitzkrieg (49* off 19 balls) with the bat and also a couple of wickets with the ball fetched him the Man of the Match award.
(Note: These top 5 innings have been chosen keeping the match conditions in mind, and hence, is purely subjective. Almost every innings the big man plays is a special one in every fan's heart!)