KKR vs PBKS, IPL 2022: Battle of the Gladiators as Andre Russell squares up against Kagiso Rabada

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will face the impressive Punjab Kings in the eighth match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Shreyas Iyer-led KKR will be desperate to return to winning ways after suffering a three-wicket loss at the hands of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). Meanwhile, Mayank Agarwal’s Punjab Kings will be merry after a morale-boosting five-wicket win over RCB in their season opener last weekend.

But all eyes will be on the great West Indian all-rounder Andre Russel and the pace bowler Kagiso Rabada who is about to return after returning from international duty. The Rabada vs Russell game will be one of the main highlights of tonight’s game. Andre Russell’s great agility in form will take on the yorkers of star pacer Kagiso Rabada when KKR takes on the Punjab Kings.

The two players have crossed in four innings in the past, with Russell crushing 60 runs in just 27 deliveries while being sacked just once.

Rabada’s return should help in the death bowling and should also lift the bowling unit, giving Punjab Kings an advantage. He is the highest wicket taker in death overs since IPL 2019 with 45 wickets in 63.4 overs.

Russell’s condition remains a concern for Shreyas Iyer and his team and a fast turnaround will be a concern. In the previous game with RCB, the KKR batter was seen struggling with his leg before bowling the latter over and his attempts to change the game with his big hits were ruined by Harshal Patel.

OVERFLOWING BATTLE

A dive into the past reveals that two players had fiery face-offs in 2019 and 2020, making Friday night’s battle even more interesting.

Rabada’s knockout blow – an inch-perfect Yorker to sack Russell in Super Over in the Delhi Capitals vs KKR clash remains fresh. Russell had reached a limit from Rabada’s first ball in the Super Over, but two balls later he was totally beaten by a perfect yorker of his who aimed at the center stump at 147 kph. Russell missed and Rabada batted as the ball uprooted the center stump, earning him praise from then-DC mentor Sourav Ganguly. This was also DC’s first super win that season.

Cut to 2020 in IPL’s 13th season, when DC pacer Rabada took the wicket from Andre Russel and said he was very pleased. Russel had come in at number four, but unfortunately was able to put up only 13 runs and was sent back to the pavilion by Rabada in the 10th over.

Rabada emphasized the importance of knocking off the opposing explosive batsman Andre Russell cheaply in the run-chase, saying: “It was nice to get Russell’s wicket. The batters won the game for us in the end.”

In the T20s, Russell scored 79 runs off 39 balls against Rabada with a strike rate of over 200. Rabada struggled against him and just sent him off once.

It remains to be seen how well the Punjab bowler will handle the KKR batter’s aggressive attack and what techniques he will use to keep him under control.

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