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Russell blitzkrieg helps KKR post 232/2 against MI

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Promoted to No. 3 for the first time this season, Andre Russell bludgeoned a typically whirlwind 80* while Shubman Gill and Chris Lynn also slammed half-centuries to help Kolkata Knight Riders post an imposing 232/2 -- the highest total in this year's Indian Premier League (IPL) -- against Mumbai Indians at the Eden Gardens here on Sunday.
 
Needing a victory to even dream of a berth in the playoffs, KKR were off to a flying start riding on Lynn (54; 29 balls, 4x8, 6x2) and Gill's (76; 45 balls, 4x6, 6x4) 96-run opening stand which came off just 57 deliveries. Gill's chanceless knock was also his highest T20 score.
 
After Lynn's dismissal in the 10th over, Russell made the most of a reprieve -- he was dropped on 1 by Evin Lewis -- to remain unbeaten and blast his highest score this season off just 40 balls with the help of six fours and eight sixes.
 
Russell shared a 62-run stand for the second wicket with Gill off 35 balls and then combined with skipper Dinesh Karthik (15 not out) for an unbroken 74-run partnership which came off just 29 deliveries.
 
In the last three overs, Russell made mincemeat of Mumbai's famed bowlers Hardik Pandya, Jasrpit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga, taking 20, 15 and 20 runs off them, respectively, as the hosts plundered 55 runs in that period.
 
Barinder Sran -- playing his first game of the season in place of Anukul Roy -- was taken for 14 runs in the first over of the innings with Gill carting him for two fours and a six.
 
Lynn -- who was dropped on 18 by Keiron Pollard -- took time to get in, scoring two runs off the first seven balls before switching gears. The Australian hit a boundary in every over after that before notching up his fourth fifty of the season in 28 balls.
 
Leg-spinner Rahul Chahar finally broke the partnership as Lynn holed out to Evin Lewis running in from deep mid-wicket in the 10th over as the KKR scoreboard read 97/1 at the halfway stage.
 
In came Russell, and for a while the Caribbean powerhouse played second fiddle to Gill, who was in full flow as he brought up his second fifty of the season off 32 balls.
 
Russell smashed his first six in the 13th ball of his innings, hitting Chahar for two back-to-back maximums in the 14th over.
 
Gill was removed by Hardik in the 16th over, with Lewis taking his catch at deep mid-wicket.
 
The damage was half done by then and with Russell soon breaking free, the Mumbai bowlers were taken to the cleaners as the hosts went on to pile up a mammoth total.
 
Brief scores
 
Kolkata Knight Riders: 232/2 in 20 overs (Andre Russell 80 not out, Shubman Gill 76, Chris Lynn 54; Hardik Pandya 1/31) vs Mumbai Indians
 
IANS

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