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KKR vs PBKS: Russell’s whirlwind 70 off 31 muscles Knight Riders to breezy win

Andre Russell cracked as many as 8 sixes and two boundaries in an unbeaten knock of 70 off just 31 deliveries to power Kolkata Knight Riders to a six wicket win over the Punjab Kings with 33 balls to spare at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

Despite being 51 for 4 at the end of the seventh over, Russell landed lofty punches and put on a 90-run partnership with Sam Billings (24 off 23) in just 45 deliveries to not allow the Kings any sniff at a victory.

The Knight Riders, in a chase of 138, started off in a sedate manner with Rahane’s trio of boundaries bringing up his 4000 IPL runs before he thick edged a full length delivery straight to short third man. Venkatesh Iyer departed for 3 in the fifth over but Shreyas Iyer continued to play his shorts before he fell in the seventh over to Rahul Chahar, who returned figures of 4-1-13-2.

A lean phase of batting saw the Knight Riders play out 23 boundary-less balls yielding only 10 runs while losing skipper Iyer and Nitish Rana. Up stepped Russell, who struck two sixes off left-arm spinner Harpreet Brar in the tenth over to swing momentum back in his side’s favour. He also became the first Knight Rider to hit 150 sixes.

Two overs later, Russell lined up his fellow West Indian, Odean Smith, who conceded 30 in a single over, to kill the chase after he smoked him for a boundary and three sixes. To make matters worse, Smith overstepped off the final ball only for Billings to swing him over his head for a maximum.

Russell creamed three more sixes to see the Knight Riders over the line with as many as 33 balls to spare.

Earlier in the day, Iyer won the toss and chose to bowl making one change: Shivam Mavi coming in for Sheldon Jackson. The Kings handed Kagiso Rabada his first cap, who came in for Sandeep Sharma.

Umesh Yadav struck third ball to send back skipper Mayank Agarwal and completed 50 powerplay wickets, only the fourth bowler to reach the milestone in the IPL. The early setback hardly seemed to deter the Kings as Bhanuka Rajapaksa (31 off 9) took 22 runs off Shivam Mavi’s over but later fell off his fifth ball.

The batters looked to unsettle the quicks by charging down the pitch but eventually fell trying to up the ante. Once Rajapaksa and Shikhar Dhawan were dismissed, spinners Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine kept the runs in check with the former allowing no boundary in his four overs conceding only 14 runs.

Just as Liam Livingstone looked to tee off, Yadav struck with a full ball as he holed out to Tim Southee at the long-off boundary. 78 for 4 became 102 for 8 as the Kings kept searching for quick runs. Rabada played a 25-run cameo hitting four boundaries and a six to propel his side to 138, being bowled out with ten balls to spare.

Yadav finished with his best bowling figures in the IPL with 4-1-23-4 and also became the most successful bowler against Punjab Kings (33 wickets). The fast bowler currently holds the Purple cup with 8 wickets in three matches while Russell was awarded the Orange cap.