NEW DELHI: Kolkata Knight Riders‘ Andre Russell‘s brutal and consistent onslaughts with the bat have become a nightmare for the opposition in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) season. With three Man-of-the-Match awards in KKR’s five matches in the tournament so far, Russell’s mayhem with his willow is continuing to haunt bowlers.
And it’s not just the commentators, his team-mates too often struggle to find words to describe the Caribbean giant’s incredible hitting abilities.
New Zealand pacer Lockie Ferguson is no different.
“It’s too tough to put in words for a guy like that (Andre Russell). He has been magnificent this season. He has been hitting runs at crucial moments,” Ferguson told Timesofindia.com in an exclusive interview.
The West Indies’ hard-hitting batsman has been prolific since the beginning of KKR’s IPL 2019 campaign. In KKR’s first five matches itself, Russell has scored 207 runs in four innings at an average of over 103 and a strike rate of 269.
“He (Russell) has the ability to take the game away at any time. He is a real game changer. I have never seen a guy like Russell who can hit sixes from the first ball he faces. I am pretty happy he is playing in my team (KKR) and not in (some) other,” Ferguson said.
KKR, the two-time IPL champions (2012 and 2014) have played five games so far – won four and lost one. The Dinesh Karthik-led side are on top of the points table with eight points to their name and are looking like one of the more balanced teams in the competition this season.
“KKR have been playing some magnificent cricket. If you look at their line-up, there is some serious talent there. Our bowling attack has been amazing. The competition (tournament) is pretty long. Sometimes it is tough to play in Indian conditions but I am trying to adjust to it. Overall, KKR have been amazing. They are doing really well and I am sure they will continue the good show as the tournament progresses. I am enjoying my time here and pretty happy to be part of the side,” Ferguson said.
The New Zealander, who has featured in four matches for KKR in the tournament so far is also confident that the Knight Riders have a very good chance of winning their third IPL title.
“KKR are one of the sides who are the favourites to enter the final of the tournament. But in T20s, you can’t predict anything. You need to build momentum and use your cards at the right time. There is a long way to go,” the 27-year-old told TimesofIndia.com.
Ferguson incidentally is one of the bowlers in the league who can bowl 145 kmh plus. In fact this season, Lockie has clocked over 150 kmph thrice already.
So what helps fast bowlers go the extra mile and strive to bowl faster?
“I have been asked this question a lot (laugh). Wish I had the answer. There is a physical element obviously. I always dreamt of bowling as quick as possible. I still work a lot on my speed and want to generate as much pace as I can. In T20s, when you try to bowl quick, you get hammered as well. But that is something I am trying to improve on,” he said.
The Kiwi pacer also praised his team-mate and young Indian fast bowler Prasidh Krishna who also has the ability to bowl 145 kmph plus. Krishna was spectacular in the Super Over against Delhi Capitals where he conceded just 10 runs, even though KKR went on to lose that match.
“He is pretty mature for his age. He is very talented. He is very clever and clear when it comes to bowling in the death overs. He is an exceptional talent in the KKR side,” the New Zealander said.
Ferguson, who made his international debut in 2016 against Australia in Sydney, is also excited about his call-up for the ICC World Cup 2019 to be held in England and Wales. So far he has played 27 ODIs and 5 T20s for the Black Caps. He will be playing his first World Cup.
“I am pretty excited to be part of the New Zealand side. As a kid, I always dreamt of playing for New Zealand someday, especially in the World Cup. New Zealand are a talented side. They have a talented bunch of players. Hope they punch above their weight this time (in the World Cup). Hope they win the title this time,” a smiling Ferguson signed off.