THE Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) was always a team filled with the star players ever since the inception of the Indian Premier League (IPL). But the team didn’t perform to its potential in the first few editions of the tournament.However, Gautam Gambhir became the captain of the team in 2012 and it changed everything. KKR won the IPL twice, in 2012 and 2014, courtesy of his leadership skills and the team did well when he was at the helm.But Gambhir feels that the franchise would’ve won more IPL trophies if Andre Russell had played when the former was with the KKR. Interestingly, the strongly built Caribbean player was picked by the franchise ahead of the 2014 edition in the auction for just Rs 60 lakh. While he played only a couple of matches during their title-winning run in the same season, Russell scored 326 runs at a strike-rate of 192.89 in 11 innings in IPL 2015.Though he didn’t dominate much in the following season Russell smashed 188 runs in 8 outings at a strike rate of close to 165. But then 2017 proved to be a tough year for him as he was banned for a year in the doping case and had miss the IPL that year. However, the KKR kept faith in him and retained him ahead of the mega auctions.And Andre Russell proved their decision right with his scintillating performances in IPL 2018 and 2019. After missing playing cricket for a year in 2017, he came stronger and fitter than ever and ripped apart the opposition bowling line-ups for fun. Rather he won a few games for the team single-handedly. But then, the franchise had released Gautam Gambhir in the mega auction and he wasn’t able to lead the team when Russell was at his best.Speaking at the Star Sports’ Cricket Connected show, the former India cricketer and current BJP MP wished that the Caribbean swashbuckler should’ve played when he was with the KKR during his seven-year stint with the franchise and they would’ve won a couple of titles definitely. He also recalled that in the same auction when KKR bought Russell for a meagre amount, Pawan Negi was sold for a huge amount of Rs 8 crore to the Delhi franchise.“Imagine Russell going for 50 Lakhs to KKR and Pawan Negi for 8 cr to Daredevils. I probably wished that he would have been there for seven years when I was playing we would have certainly won one or two more,” Gambhir said. Interestingly, despite Russell being at his best, the KKR hasn’t performed well in the last two seasons. (CricTracker)
And while Walton played down the idea Los Angeles might have been tired late in the game, he acknowledged there is a fragility to his young side.”I thought our guys were alright,” he told reporters. “Road games are much tougher when you’re playing as many young guys as we are. We missed having [Rajon] Rondo and Brandon [Ingram], even though Brandon’s very young. Related News NBA wrap: Joel Embiid-less 76ers come from behind to extend Pistons’ skid “We let this one get away from us, but it’s a 48-minute game, it happens. We need to learn from it and we’ve got to get ready to go.”A downbeat James appeared to be disappointed with the officials’ role in the game and refused to discuss the disparity in free throws awarded between the two teams (33-21 in the Spurs’ favor), instead simply shrugging.Asked what he must do to have a call go his way, he replied: “I have no idea. I have no idea.” “LeBron [James] came out, we took him out at the end of the second to try to get him a couple of minutes leading into half-time. We had a big lead but they cut into that right away.”We got away from what we were doing really well up to that point.Lakers can’t keep up with San Antonio’s hot shooting down the stretch and fall to the Spurs, 120-133. pic.twitter.com/1tJEodVbXR— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 8, 2018″We’re young and we’re a new group together, we’re still learning to play together. You get in these environments, San Antonio, and their crowd gets going, we’re down bodies…”As a group, we’re trying to become a team that’s mentally tough enough to win these type of road games. We’ve got a lot better from the start of the season, but we’re not there yet. We can win these games, but we’re not going to win all of them.”I thought the way they [the Spurs] were shooting the ball and the run they went on, we gave in a little bit.”Star forward LeBron James (35 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds) now wants the Lakers to learn from this defeat as they face the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.”We’ve got another one to play tomorrow [Saturday], versus a very good Memphis team that won tonight on the road,” James said. “They’re playing extremely well. Coach Luke Walton feels the Los Angeles Lakers are still lacking mental toughness after they “gave in a little bit” in a fourth-quarter collapse to the San Antonio Spurs.The Lakers (15-10) were on course to beat the Spurs (12-14) for the second time this week as they led 99-89 through 36 minutes, but they were outscored 44-21 in the fourth to slump to a tough defeat.