Wrist-spinner Rashid Khan's main job on Sunday (April 21) was to ensure that Kolkata Knight Riders' Andre Russell is not able to unleash his immaculate power-hitting abilities at the death against his team Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Rashid knew how tough it will be for him to execute his plans against the big Jamaican, but he was also quite confident of coming out triumphant because of his previous record while taking on Russell.
And, as it turned out, even the West Indies maverick was aware of Rashid's threat, as he deliberately took a single off the very first ball that the Afghanistan leg-spinner delivered in the 18th over despite having tail-ender Piyush Chawla at the other end.
Chawla went on to play five dots, SRH got what they want, as Russell, who again came into bat too low, never quite got going and was dismissed by Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the very next over for 15 runs off his nine balls.
"The way he (Russell) has been hitting in this tournament is unbelievable and how he has hit fast bowlers, I think he is unstoppable," said Rashid at the post-match press conference. "So that was the plan to keep my two overs in the bag and just try my best because I have a good record against him, I got him two times, so that was the plan to bowl at the end of the innings and hope for the best."
SRH restricted KKR to a modest first innings total of 159/8, before chasing it all down in just 15 overs with nine wickets in hand. It was a magnificent all-round performance from the team that desperately needed this victory.
"We just needed to do the right things, enjoy the game and back our skills," Rashid added. "The most important things were everyone took the responsibility, as a bowling unit we did very well to restrict them under 160. I think it was a good effort and the openers have played amazingly throughout the tournament & they just did their job & tried to finish the game."
Once again David Warner (67) and Jonny Bairstow (80*) batted outstandingly and stitched together an opening partnership of 131 runs, to leave their team's widely criticised middle-order nothing much to do. But like skipper Kane Williamson and head coach Tom Moody, Rashid also stressed how occasions such as these have only aggravated that issue.
"We only collapsed in two games and you can't rely on two games. Only the two games we lost against Mumbai and the other against Delhi. Those were the two games where our middle order collapsed," he said.
"Otherwise I think everyone got their opportunity, hardly the top order let us go in and hit few balls but our middle order is still to bat, they are in form. Everyone will stand up & deliver when they can."
(Inputs from PTI)