Kolkata, April 29 (IANS) Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) captain Dinesh Karthik has heaped praise on Andre Russell, saying it is great to see him grow as a player and get matured.
Riding on Russell's unbeaten 40-ball 80, KKR kept their playoffs hope alive as they defeated Mumbai Indians (MI) by 34-run win despite Hardik Pandya's fireworks in an Indian Premier League (IPL) clash at the Eden Gardens here on Sunday.
"Russell is a great player, he's a special player and it's good to see him grow as a player. The maturity he's showing is great to see," said Karthik in the post-match presentation ceremony.
Prior to Sunday's game, Russell had expressed his displeasure towards the decision-making in the team.
Russell had said that it's not the batting that's been struggling, but the bowling. "We get to totals we should defend," he had said at the press conference before the game. He had spoken about how he had talked to the coach about his batting order, and about how, despite being among the runs, he had not left the room in days because he was not feeling good about the losses.
However, batting first on Sunday, KKR amassed 232-2 riding on the back of half-centuries from their top order, after which their bowlers restricted the visitors to 198-7. The win ended KKR's six-match losing streak in IPL 2019, and also brought to an end MI's streak of eight consecutive wins against them.
"I think at the end of the day you should make sure your process is right. It might sound cliche but it's a high pressure sport. You gotta make sure everybody is in great space as it's such a high octane tournament," said Karthik.
"You need to stay healthy as a lot of back biting can happen in these types of situations and I am very aware about it. At the end of the day, it's a game, you need to keep a smile, you need to be nice to others and you need to be happy," he added.
For the visitors, Pandya played an unbelievable knock of 34-ball 90 and kept his team in the hunt. However, he was unlucky as he couldn't get support from other batsmen. The KKR skipper, while praising Pandya, credited his bowlers for keeping the nerves and not getting panicked when the Mumbai batsman was going all guns blazing.
"Credit to Hardik, the way he played. Credit to my bowlers as well as they held on to their nerves. In these kinds of games we were waiting for one bad shot," said Karthik.
Meanwhile, MI skipper Rohit Sharma maintained that his side went with the feeling that they could chase down the target. "It was only the regular fall of wickets which cost Mumbai the game," he said.
"You got to start well which didn't happen for us. We kept losing wickets which added more pressure towards the end. If somebody would have played a hand with Hardik, we might have won the match," said Sharma.
The Mumbai skipper insisted his team will learn from their thrashing against KKR and will look to come out with a positive brand of cricket in the next two games.
"This is a learning lesson for us. We will find some answers going forward. Today was a testing time for us, but I am not really worried how the bowling unit will come back from this," he said.
"We have to regroup quickly now, we are playing two home games and know the conditions well. As a team we have done some right things and we have to believe in our abilities. You got to stay positive and look forward to the next game," he added.