How to stop Andre Russell… Maybe Imran Tahir

CHENNAI : How do you stop Andre Russell? That’s the most intriguing question that this edition IPL has thrown up. Even the cynics of T20 would be piqued. Rarely has world cricket seen such a destructive batsman who has turned the art of unadulterated hitting into a scientific art. The question for Tuesday morning can be phrased thus: Can Chennai Super Kings leg-spinner Imran Tahir stop Russell, who is reputed to be a touch iffy against quality leg-break?

That “iffy” comes with a rider though: it’s not as if he has grave issues. Since 2015 he has scored 101 runs off 79 balls from leg-spinners and has been dismissed just four times. Since 2018, he has scored less against leg spin – 8.56 runs per over as opposed to 12.23 against other bowlers. He has created such chaos in opposition ranks that all the tactical heads are clutching the straws. The plan is to squeeze in pressure through choking up run-flow (if nearly 9 runs per over can be called that) through legspin, and work on his ego.

But Tuesday presents his severest test yet: a wearing track that does help turn and Tahir fizzing with his googlies. Even though he is yet to be dismissed by a spinner this season, he doesn’t really relish facing the slow bowlers. Last year he had said, “Against the spinners, I just look to survive and then against the seamers, I am looking to maximise because it’s a lot easier.”