If Andre Russell doesn’t bowl, he shouldn’t come into the KKR lineup: Gautam Gambhir

Former Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir said that the Kolkata Knight Riders shouldn’t bring Andre Russell into their playing eleven if the Jamaican is unable to bowl. Earlier, during KKR’s match against Chennai Super Kings in Abu Dhabi, Russell sustained a hamstring injury due to which he has had to sit out. Head coach Brendon McCullum also admitted that Russell’s absence hurt the team balance.

In 10 games, the West Indian has picked up 11 wickets, although at an expensive economy rate of 9.89. But it’s his numbers with the bat that has been a cause of concern of late. The right-hander has notched 183 runs at an average of 26.14 and a strike rate of 152.50 with only one half-century.

Gambhir, who led KKR to two IPL titles in 2012 and 2014 respectively, said that Shakib Al Hasan hasn’t done anything wrong to be left out of the eleven. The Delhi-born Gambhir was clear cut in saying that the Knights may need an extra bowler in the playoffs and can’t afford to depend on part-timers.

You won’t want to walk on the edge in a playoff game, says Gautam Gambhir

“No, if he doesn’t bowl, he doesn’t come in. What wrong has Shakib done? For me, if Russell is fit and he’s willing to do deliver in both the departments, batting and bowling, I’d pick him. But if he says that he can only bat and can’t bowl, then I’d probably go with Shakib because you need the sixth bowling option against a batting lineup like RCB,” Gambhir told ESPNcricinfo.

“You can’t just go with four or five bowlers with the part-time bowling of Nitish Rana and Venkatesh Iyer. That’s walking on the edge and you won’t want that, especially in a playoff game,” he added.

Although Gambhir put forth his views keeping in mind KKR’s probable clash against RCB in the Eliminator, there’s no confirmation on the playoff game. Even as Mumbai Indians have a mathematical chance of knocking the Knights out of the competition, RCB can topple the Super Kings to second in the points table.

On Thursday, October 7, KKR beat Sanju Samson’s Rajasthan Royals by 86 runs at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium after bowling the opposition for 85 in 16.1 overs. Shivam Mavi picked up a four-wicket haul and bagged the Player of the Match award.