After KKR fails to make to playoffs, Dinesh Karthik defends Russell

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Mumbai, May 6 (IANS) Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) bowed out of the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) after suffering a crushing nine-wicket defeat against Mumbai Indians (MI) in their last group stage encounter.

Put into bat on Sunday evening, KKR never got going on a slow, sluggish Wankhede and managed to post just 133/7 in their stipulated quota of 20 overs.

Robin Uthappa played an uncharacteristic knock of 40 from 47 balls, scoring 25 dot balls on a day when KKR magic wand Andre Russell failed to deliver.

The big-hitting West Indian walked out to bat at number 5 after Mumbai had built up the pressure on the visitors. Russell fell to Lasith Malinga for a duck and KKR, from their on, never managed to push the accelerator.

Mumbai chased down the target with ease, riding on unbeaten knocks from skipper Rohit Sharma (55) and Suryakumar Yadav (46) to seal the top spot.

After the match, KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik rued the fact that their batting didn’t come to their own in a must-win game against Mumbai.

“We didn’t find momentum after the 6-over mark while batting and the regular wickets didn’t help either. We simply didn’t get going,” Karthik said in the post-match presentation ceremony.

He also defended the decision to hold back Russell, saying, “There was an opportunity to bat up the order for Andre Russell, but expecting him to deliver every time is unfair and he has been fantastic throughout the tournament for us.”

The KKR skipper, however, assured fans that the team will come out with a much improved performance in the next season.

“Not our best season, there are a lot of areas for us to improve on, and I’m sure we will come back stronger next year,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rohit praised his team for their collective effort. “It was the team effort that pleased me the most. We don’t depend on a few individuals to take us through, there are a lot of characters who put their hands up and took us through.”

“Today, the entire bowling attack used the pitch and their variations really did well to keep a line-up like KKR quiet,” he added.

The three-time IPL champions are known to perform better in the second half of the tournament, something which the MI skipper is proud off.

“It is something we know about the IPL that the business end matters. We always come back well in the second half of this tournament,” said Rohit.

“In all the three trophies that we’ve won, the boys have picked themselves up in the business end.”

MI, who finished in pole position with 18 points from 14 matches, will now take on second-placed Chennai Super Kings in the Qualifier 1 in Chennai on Tuesday.

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