MUMBAI, India (AP) — Jamaica and West Indies allrounder Andre Russell lashed an unbeaten 70 to lead Kolkata Knight Riders to a six-wicket victory over Punjab Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Friday.
Umesh Yadav took four for 23 at Brabourne Stadium to help Kolkata bowl out Punjab for 137 runs in 18.2 overs.
Kolkata crossed the finish line with 141 for four in 14.3 overs after Russell smacked eight sixes in his 70 not out off only 31 balls.
Chasing 138, Kolkata got off to a bad start and lost openers Ajinkya Rahane (12) and Venkatesh Iyer (3) with only 38 runs on the board.
Skipper Shreyas Iyer picked up the momentum with 26 runs off 15 balls, including five boundaries.
Kolkata stalled, however, when Rahul Chahar raised visions of a Punjab fightback with the wickets of Iyer and Nitish Rana in three balls. Kolkata were down to 51 for four in seven overs.
Enter Russell, alongside Sam Billings. Russell, not wearing a helmet, hit a few deliveries to get into stride and then launched a few out of the park. In all, he reached his half-century in 26 balls. His eighth and final six over midwicket were the winning runs.
“I am feeling awesome,” Russell said. “This is the reason why we play the game. In that position, I know what I can do. Once I started sweating, I told Sam (Billings) I am going to go. I backed my ability (to hit). (But) I think I only hit one (six) off of the middle (of the bat).”
Yadav was given the man of the match award after Kolkata rebounded from defeat to Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Yadav struck early when he trapped Mayank Agarwal lbw on 1.
But Bhanuka Rajpaksa propelled Punjab’s innings with three sixes and 31 runs off nine balls.
Rajpaksa was eventually dismissed by Shivam Mavi, and Shikhar Dhawan was taken out by Tim Southee as Kolkata’s pace heavy attack chipped at Punjab’s top order.
Yadav returned to send back hard-hitting Liam Livingstone and reduce Punjab to 78 for four in nine overs.
While the run-rate was high, Punjab couldn’t stop losing wickets regularly and lost steam in the middle overs.
Wickets by Sunil Narine and Russell struck vital blows for Kolkata.
Kagiso Rabada, who is missing South Africa’s home test series against Bangladesh, threw his bat around to score 25 off 16 balls and give Punjab’s bowlers something to defend. But it wasn’t enough.