IPL 2021 – CSK vs KKR

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Knight Riders head coach also heaped praised on Morgan’s captaincy despite his disappointing returns with the bat

Andre Russell, one of the most devastating T20 players in the world, was deemed too much of a risk to play in the IPL 2021 final due to a hamstring injury that he picked up early into the UAE leg of the tournament. Kolkata Knight Riders coach Brendon McCullum said that given the occasion of a final, and the injury Russell had, the team “couldn’t afford” to take the risk of playing Russell.
Knight Riders missed Russell’s explosiveness with bat and ball, as Chennai Super Kings won by 27 runs to lift their fourth IPL trophy. Super Kings faced little trouble from the bowlers in piling up 192 for 3, and Knight Riders then found boundaries hard to come by, especially in the second half of their chase.

“Look, Andre, he obviously had a hamstring tear earlier on in the competition. He worked unbelievably hard to try and get himself available. There was still a risk there, and it was a risk that I felt in a final, we just couldn’t afford to take,” McCullum said at the post-match press conference.

“Such is the nature of hamstrings, you’re just never really sure whether they’re going to be fully healed or not. It was just such a big risk. Look, in the end, we decided to go for the guys who had done so well for us to get us into the final. I’m really proud of all their achievements. It’s a shame we fell short, but we were outplayed by a very good CSK side today.”

Russell had played only three of ten games for Knight Riders in the UAE leg, with his last one on September 26, nearly three weeks before the October 15 final. In the lead up to the playoffs, chief mentor David Hussey had said Russell was “pushing hard” to be fit in time while captain Eoin Morgan pointed to Russell’s quick recovery from injuries in the past.
In Russell’s absence, the overseas players that Knight Riders went with were Sunil Narine, Shakib Al Hasan, Lockie Ferguson and Morgan. While the others had several crucial performances, Morgan’s already bad form in the India leg of the IPL, nosedived further in the UAE. Overall, he made only 133 runs in 16 innings, scoring at less than a run a ball, with a strike rate of 95.68. In the UAE though, he had just 41 runs in nine innings, at an average of 6.83 and a strike rate of 71.92.
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