Is he the new Universe Boss? Going by his overall record and particularly his exploits in the ongoing IPL Andre Russell is certainly the boss of T-20 cricket. With a strike rate of 141 in T-20 internationals and 169 in T-20 cricket overall his reputation in the shortest format is sky high. Of course he is no slouch when it comes to ODIs with a strike rate of 130. If there is a cricketer who was born for the shorter formats and particularly T-20s it has to be the smiling assassin from Jamaica. His fellow Jamaican Chris Gayle who calls himself Universe Boss has got an excellent record in limited overs cricket but he has also played in 103 Tests. Russell on the other hand has played just one match in the traditional format and like his mentor plies his trade in T-20 leagues the world over.
But even by IPL standards what Russell did in the game between Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday was superlative. We are used to batsmen having a strike rate of anything between 200 and 300 for an innings of some substance but in running up a strike rate of virtually 370 while hammering an unbeaten 48 from just 13 balls Russell just outdid – who else but himself. RCB must have felt confident after scoring 205 but virtually no target is safe when Russell is around. Fifty three runs from the last three overs is a tough task by any standards and yet Russell finished the game with virtually an over to spare! The RCB players might well say ```we play cricket, Russell plays something else.’’
But then during this year’s competition Russell has been having the time of his life. He started off with a 19-ball 49 against Sunrisers Hyderabad with four sixes and four fours and a strike rate of almost 258 to help KKR win with two balls to spare. Next up for the treatment were King’s XI Punjab whom Russell took apart for 48 off 17 balls with five sixes and three fours and a strike rate of 282. Next on the chopping block were Delhi Capitals with Russell plundering 62 off 28 balls with six sixes and four fours and a strike rate of 221. And then of course came the pyrotechnics on Friday.
Russell compounded RCB’s misery as they have now lost all their five games. Virat Kohli has come under tremendous pressure with his captaincy being questioned but when the bowling and fielding under pressure makes mistakes there is little the captain can do. Symbolic of this is Tim Southee one of the most skilled, respected and experienced bowlers in international cricket going for 29 runs in the penultimate over. Yes, there is little that captains or bowlers can do when Russell is on the rampage.
Kolkata Knight Riders have started the Indian Premier League 2019 with a bang. They have won three of their first four matches. The Dinesh Karthik-led franchise is co-owned by one of the finest actors in India, Shah Rukh Khan. Dinesh Karthik, who has interacted with SRK a lot, has stated that he is a top owner. The skipper further added that Shah Rukh Khan is a sports lover, who advocates healthy rivalry.
Shah Rukh Khan has always motivated players and has gone out of the way to help franchise members. His ownership has been lucky for KKR as they have won two IPL titles.
He also owns Trinbago Knight Riders and Cape Town Knight Riders in Caribbean Premier League and South Africa’s T20 Global League respectively.
“Firstly, he is a terrific person. In the little time, I have spent with him, he is a top owner to have and is genuinely a large-hearted person who wishes well for his team and other teams as well. He likes to see a good cricket match. He is someone who is sport loving. He is not all about KKR, and 'we need to win'. He likes to see a good game,” he said
“As much as he loves KKR and wants us to do really well, he is someone who understands losses and is able to react to them in a positive way. I am lucky to have an owner like him, to put him in a nutshell,” he added.