When Andre Russell was out of cricket for 365 days in 2017- there wasn’t much public knowledge of his whereabouts. Other than knowing that it was repentance or something of that sort that he might have been feeling, you didn’t know where he’d been? Then suddenly emerged pictures of his private wedding. Nonetheless, that might have been a tough year, having made inroads with alleged doping allegations. And perhaps it may just have been as tough for him personally as what he made Chennai Super Kings bear in their return to Chepauk: their home den, when mistakenly their bowlers took Russell, lightly.
How Russell turned it around in Chennai
This, however, is a new Andre Russell and you don’t need more proof other than gazing at the statistical virtuosity and impact of his figures against Chennai. 88 runs. 36 balls. A strike rate of 244. We will come to the main part- the sixes- later.
But it ought to be said on a beautiful batting wicket, unrealistically not a bowler’s delight as Dhoni may have predicted, bowling fuller and length deliveries could’ve only resulted in the Jamaican sending them in one direction. To the stands, where else? But there was something more about Andre Russell on April 10, 2018.
Rarely has he adjusted to fuller deliveries with greater carry to slower ones with such charismatic ease.
A year of being away from cricket; a year spent in relative obscurity. It’s the kind of time when you make your active social media profile go ‘offline’. Maybe backed by a plan to return as a new you, as they say. And with a time-bound plan time marked by an ambition to return only much stronger perhaps. So when, at the completion of his personal best of 88, which also handed him the orange cap (very early in the tournament) Andre Russell was asked about his seemingly new technique- blocking Yorkers well, striking flat sixes with glee- he candidly responded, “Yeah..been working a bit on that.”
That is Andre Russell for you. Candid and honest; clean and simple- like his uncomplicated brand of batting.
“See the ball, hit the ball.”
If the IPL 2018 opener was about his West Indies teammate Dwayne Bravo bouncing back into mainstream attention, even though in a format where he’s the shark in an ocean, then the evening of April 10 belonged to Bravo’s Kolkata Knight Riders adversary- Andre Russell.
He’s clearly, the other West Indian who is making the news. And the only West Indian who nearly played no domestic cricket either or very less back in the Caribbean when mounting a comeback on international stage.
Importantly, his 88 of 36 sends out a loud and clear signal of his intent that too in a tournament where there’s no dearth of dynamite West Indian presence in the form of Gayle, Narine and, Pollard. And maybe, even Evin Lewis- the newest West Indian sensation.
But returning to where the focus currently is and in the contest between Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings, it’s not too hard to note who unearthed a pot of gold?
Andre Russell on a six-hitting spree
To strike 11 sixes in an inning is a legendary feat in any T20 game. For the rewards of muscling some blows is tantamount directly to face the looming threat of losing one’s wicket to the lust of hitting big. But to fire someone like Dwayne Bravo for three in an over whilst overcoming his biggest possible weapon of choice- that slower ball at the back of length- calls for mighty credit.
That is something we have got to credit Russell with, who for now, seems in good touch even with the white ball in hand. In his only other game prior to lashing Chennai, he bowled 2 overs against RCB and gave away just 10 runs. This was more impressive as he came into the attack during the death overs.
A bewildering strike rate
For now, instead of ruminating exclusively as to what may or may not happen to Russell’s form in the rest of the tournament, let’s stop to salute a feat of magnanimity.
In the game against CSK, it was revealed that Andre Russell’s strike rate in the last three years against spin was 140 while it was 177 against pace. Overall, his strike rate is 179.
Not too bad for a man who was once called a pinch-hitter, right?