Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) all-rounder Andre Russell can be one of the most devastating players in the world on his day, but the biggest concern about him is his fitness. During KKR’s defeat to Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on Wednesday, Russell suffered yet another injury scare as captain Shreyas Iyer could only bowl him for three overs. Even then, bowling the 20th over, Russell could barely get through, falling over in his follow-through. Retained for Rs 12 crore, Russell is a key part of KKR’s plans and they would hope that the niggle is not too serious and he is available for the season.
Former New Zealand player Simon Doull believes that if his fitness is such a concern, KKR need to think of a different approach to handle him.
He said they have, including Russell, a few options who can chip in for four overs combined as their fifth bowler.
“You’d like to think that you get four overs out of Venkatesh Iyer, Andre Russell, and even a couple of round arms from Nitish Rana if you had to,” he told Cricbuzz.
“Most teams are very similar. Very few teams in this competition have five out-and-out bowlers — one or two of which can bat. It is very difficult to find in T20 cricket. So they’ve got four genuine bowlers, and even Pat Cummins will come back, they still got four very genuinely good bowlers,” he said.
“Chakravarthy will have more good nights than bad. But if you can’t rely on 4 overs from Russell, Iyer, and Rana, there’s something wrong,” he added.
“I know everybody is worried as soon as Andre Russell dives but you can’t play the game like that. If they’re worried about it, don’t play him. Or don’t bowl him at all. Just tell Venkatesh Iyer and Nitish Rana that you two are going to be our fifth bowlers.” Doull said.
“You just don’t bowl Russell at all and hope he wins you three games with the bat. In this sort of competition, you are asking every player to win 2-3 games, or even one game. So that might be the way forward. He’s just struggling with the ball,” he said.
“And his body is such an enormous mass of muscle. He might be truly over 105-108 kilos; just that enormous mass going through that stress time and time again is not easy. He is an injury waiting to happen, which is a shame because I love watching him ply all of his trades,” Doull concluded.
KKR slumped to a defeat against RCB at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, with Russell not being able to defend seven runs off his final over in a low-scoring thriller.
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