Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) wicketkeeper Sam Billings has impressed With West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell with an unbeaten 70 off 31 balls, as the two time IPL champions defeated Punjab Kings by six wickets with 33 balls to spare on Friday night at the Wankhede Stadium.
The 30-year-old England cricketer termed Russell “the star” who could destroy any team when on song.
Chasing 138 after bowling out the Punjab Kings, the Punjab bowlers threatened to trip KKR in the chase, reducing them to 51/4 in the eighth over. With leg-spinner Rahul Chahar hitting the right lengths, KKR could only score 10 runs off 23 balls while losing two wickets that of Nitish Rana and skipper Shreyas Iyer.
What followed was absolute mayhem. The West Indian all-rounder launched two sixes off left-arm spinner Harpreet Brar in the 10th over that yielded 17 runs. Russell then picked his Jamaican counterpart Odean Smith for special treatment, hitting him for three sixes and a boundary before Billings, too, struck a six down the ground in a 30-run over.
Russell smashed three more sixes to seal the chase in the 15th over.
“For me, it was just about holding the game there and supporting him (Russell),” Billings said after the match.
“He is the star and I wanted to let him play his game. It was about that clarity, letting him play his game. He can win a game, as we saw, in the space of five overs (7.3 overs). Baz (head coach Brendon McCullum) always backs each individual to do that and when you’ve got a world-class performer like that you see the destruction he can cause,” added Billings.
“He (Russell) has shown what a world-class performer he is. He is the best in the world (in power hitting) when he goes like that. He rocked up there nicely. I had the best seat in the house (non-striker’s end), what a performance by the big man. I was very lucky I stood there even though I feared for my life a couple of times,” added Billings.