Kolkata Knight Riders could bat talisman Andre Russell as high as No.3 in the order in IPL 2020. This according to team mentor David Hussey, who called Russell the ‘heartbeat’ of the KKR side and forecast the possibility of a T20 double hundred for the Jamaican if given 60 balls to face.
Russell’s batting position was a topic of much debate through last season as KKR let go of an impressive start and slipped to a string of six losses. Among those defeats was a game against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Eden Gardens when Russell was left with too much to do by an insipid top-order and even his rampaging 25-ball 65 was not enough to overhaul RCB’s total.
Dinesh Karthik admitted at the end of the season that there was an opportunity to bat him at the top of the order, one the team hadn’t taken. It’s a tactical mis-step that could be fixed this season, if Hussey were to be believed. “Why not?” Hussey responded when quizzed on the matter.
“If it benefits the team and helps us win games of cricket, why not? If he comes in at No. 3 and bats 60 balls, he might even score a double hundred. Anything can happen with Dre Russ. He is almost the heartbeat of the team.”
One of the factors permitting such a move this season is the acquisition of Eoin Morgan. Morgan, along with captain Karthik, could take up finishing duties in the middle-order, freeing up Russell for a more dynamic role at the top order.
Hussey sang praises of the England captain and stated a central role lay in store for Morgan, with the bat and as part of the team’s leadership group. “He’s huge, isn’t he?” Hussey said. Classy player, classy performer, Morgan’s going to be a great ally for Karthik.
“He [Morgan] may be fielding in the ring talking to the bowlers while the captain is behind the stumps keeping wickets. He’s a cool, calm and collected person and will also be a handy batsman controlling the middle overs with Karthik. I expect a really good relationship between them, and his calm head can win us many games through the tournament.”
Hussey, however, stated that a decision was yet to be made on the team’s opening combination. Shubman Gill is a primary contender to take up the one spot vacated by KKR’s decision to release Chris Lynn. Sunil Narine is likely to join Gill at the top given the possibility of the team’s opening with a spinner in UAE. Tom Banton, though, presents an alternative. Either way, KKR are unlikely to take a conservative approach at the top, in-line with new coach Brendon McCullum’s philosophies.
“It’s up for discussion at the moment, and the head coach, Abhishek Nayar and Karthik are yet to decide that,” Hussey said. “If anyone knows McCullum, he plays the game at 100 miles an hour and encourages his players to take the game on.
“With regards to Shubman Gill, he’s just one hell of a talent. Leave him alone, let him play, and you can see him score hundred after hundred in the IPL.” (Cricbuzz)