Thus far, Andre Russell has faced 77 balls in the 2019 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and among those, 22 were hit out of the park whereas 12 deliveries crossed the fence along the ground.
Talking about power-hitting, Russell has certainly raised the bar in this competition. And it is not just about his insane hitting abilities which make people wonder about his skills, but also the ridiculous ease with which the Jamaican has gone about his business each and every time he has come to the crease with bat in hand in this year’s IPL.
On Friday night, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) needed 66 from 24 deliveries. The Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) bowlers were in good rhythm. In the 16th over, Nitish Rana got out and in the very next over KKR lost the crucial wicket of skipper Dinesh Karthik. They still needed 53 off 18 with two new batsmen at the crease. And when Mohammen Siraj bowled a couple of dot balls to start the 18th over, the game was almost in RCB’s grasp.
But, from that situation, it took just eight scoring shots from Russell to seal the deal in KKR’s favour. 6, 6, 1, 6, 6, 6, 4, 6 – he scored 41 off the required 53 runs in those eight deliveries to stun the cricketing world. And courtesy to that onslaught, by the time the final over started there were just formalities left in the match, which Shubman Gill took care of. KKR won the match with five balls to spare, which made a mockery of RCB’s gameplans.
So, what is so special about Russell? How can someone produce such insane exhibition of power-hitting with such consistency?
Well, the way he gets into a hitting position and generates such power to muscle the toughest of deliveries out of the fence is completely unique. Unlike some other West Indian power-hitters, Russell doesn’t have much of a backlift. For him, it is all about the bat speed and timing. He uses the depth of the crease brilliantly. Standing deep, with his back foot less than a foot away from the stumps, Russell converts low full-tosses and yorkers into overpitched deliveries. He gets under the ball and smacks it with immense power, which is being generated from the bat swing as well as his gift of timing.
Because of his ability to use the crease, Russell gets a wide base to launch an attacking shot. Also, as a batsman he is very flexible and can adjust quickly. Plus he is a natural athlete and has the muscle power, which is turning out to be a deadly combination. In fact, that’s why we see him hitting those wide yorkers for straight sixes.
And regarding his consistency, the key for Russell is his hunger for success. You won’t see much of a hangover in him following such brilliant performances. Instead, he remains calm and composed always geared up for the next challenge. For him, performances like the one we witnessed in Bengaluru, was just another day at the office.
“This [IPL] is the highest level of T20 franchise [cricket] and you have to be at your best once you cross the rope,” Russell said following his match winning 13-ball 48 at Chinnaswamy. “When you are in a zone and you have a momentum going, just don’t stop, keep going. And that’s what I am doing. When I wake up in the morning, I know it is another opportunity for me to make myself better in life and try and best [sic] what I have done before. So, to all my fans, it [Friday’s knock] is nothing special. It is just all in the heart and all in the mind.”
“I don’t make too much out of it. I make sure I remain calm. You have a time when you gonna [sic] struggle a bit. So, at the end of the day, I make sure I keep the momentum going. I don’t take anything for granted. I don’t go there and say ‘ok, I made 40 odd in the last game and I am gonna continue from where I had left of’. It’s a total new game and you are prepared to play different,” the Windies cricketer who is striking at 268.83 with an average of 103.50 in this ongoing edition of IPL, further added.
So, Russell is a skilful all-rounder who packs a punch when needed and has the ability to remain calm and composed once the job is done – truly this is a rare combination for a modern day cricketer in the contemporary era.