Russell fireworks in vain as Knight Riders lose
West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell.

PUNE, India (CMC) — Superstar all-rounder, Jamaican Andre Russell continued to shine amid Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) troubles while his West Indies teammate Shimron Hetmyer produced a cameo to push Rajasthan Royals closer to the top of the Indian Premier League standings here Saturday.

At the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Russell lashed a typically robust 45 from 19 balls to follow up a two-wicket haul, but KKR slumped to a heavy 75-run defeat to Jason Holder’s Lucknow Super Giants after failing to chase down 177.

There was no such disappointment for Hetmyer at Wankhede Stadium 95 miles away in Mumbai, the attacking left-hander hitting an unbeaten 31 to help Royals chase down a stiff target of 190 to beat Punjab Kings by six wickets.

With their seventh loss in 11 matches, KKR languish three from bottom of the ten-team table on eight points while Super Giants jumped to the top on 16 points — the same tally as second-place Gujarat Titans.

Royals’ seventh win saw them climb to third on 14 points while Kings remained seventh on ten points.

It was Russell who took centre stage despite KKR’s dreadful form.

Opting to bowl first, they watched as Super Giants rallied to 176 for seven off their 20 overs, South African opener Quinton de Kock top-scoring with 50 from 29 balls in a 71-run, second-wicket stand with Deepak Hooda who made 41 from 27 deliveries in another 34-run, third wicket stand with Krunal Pandya (25).

Australian Marcus Stoinis smashed a 14-ball 28 in a 38-run, fifth-wicket stand with Ayush Badoni (15 not out) to rally the innings at the back end, while Holder scored 13 from four balls with two sixes after entering with only eight balls left.

Medium fast Russell claimed two for 22 from his three overs to be the most successful KKR bowler while off-spinner Sunil Narine finished with one for 20 from four overs.

In reply, medium pacer Holder snatched three for 31 as KKR were embarrassingly bundled out for 101 in the 15th over, fast bowler Avesh Khan also picking up three for 19.

The innings was slumping at 25 for four in the seventh over before Russell belted three fours and five sixes in a desperate attempt to revive the chase, stitching together a fifth-wicket stand of 44 with Rinku Singh (6).

Once Russell holed out to third man in the 13th over, all hope disappeared and Sunil Narine’s 12-ball 22 was inconsequential.

In Pune, Englishman Jonny Bairstow slammed 56 from 40 balls and Jitesh Sharma hit an unbeaten 38 from 18 deliveries to power Kings to 189 for five from their 20 overs.

Opener Yashasvi Jaiswal then lashed 68 from 41 balls to lay the foundation for a successful run chase, the 20-year-old left-hander anchoring a 46-run opening stand with England’s Jos Buttler (30), adding a further 39 for the second wicket with Captain Sanju Samson (23) before putting on 56 for the third wicket with Devdutt Padikkal (31).

Hetmyer entered in the 15th over when Jaiswal perished and promptly set about the Kings attack, pummelling three fours and two sixes in a 16-ball cameo as he posted 40 with Padikkal for the fourth wicket, helping Royals over the line with two balls to spare.

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