West Indies and KKR powerhouse Andre Russell
- Tournament rescheduled to commence on 26 November – Colombo Kings v Kandy Tuskers
By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
One of the hardest hitters in white ball cricket, West Indian powerhouse Andre Russell has put himself in contention to be picked to play in the Lanka Premier League (LPL) after pulling out due to injury.
Russell made himself unavailable when he suffered a knee injury playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). However, with the start of the LPL being pushed back by five days due to Government health clearance, Russell has been given time to recover from his injury.
In fact, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) was still waiting for the health guidelines from the Health Ministry, after the tournament was given the Government green light on Wednesday.
Russell returned to action in the IPL for KKR against Rajasthan Royals on 1 November, where he scored 25 off 11 balls, inclusive of 3 sixes to give his team a win by 60 runs.
Russell has an impressive strike rate of 151.26 in T20Is and 130.22 in ODIs for West Indies and has been described as one of the IPL’s most destructive, impactful and valuable players.
“Andre Russell has confirmed that he wants to play in the LPL. Earlier he pulled out because he was nursing an injury. On Wednesday I got the news that he is available, and the franchise will have to approach him,” said LPL Tournament Director Ravin Wickramaratne.
Russell was picked by Colombo Kings, who are yet to fill the vacancy created by former South African captain Faf du Plessis, who will be playing in the upcoming series against England.
Four of the five franchises taking part in the LPL have yet to complete their list of players. “The vacant positions of the four franchises that have still not completed their list of players will be filled by 15 November,” said Wickramaratne.
The Tournament Director said that he expects the players picked from Pakistan to arrive after the Pakistan Super League (PSL), which ends on 17 November and the rest of the players to come 7-10 days prior to the start of the tournament which is 26 November, so that they can finish their seven-day quarantine period.
The opening match of the tournament has been rescheduled for 26 November between Colombo Kings and Kandy Tuskers at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium (MRICS) in Hambantota, which will host all the matches. Earlier Pallekele was also scheduled to host some of the matches.
Due to one venue hosting all 23 matches of the LPL in 14 days, Wickramaratne said that none of the teams will be provided with the facility to practice on the centre pitches. “We are putting up lights for the ten side wickets that will be utilised for practices under lights by the five teams,” Wickramaratne said.
With the LPL running parallel to the Australia-India one-day series, there may be days where no LPL matches will be played if the dates clash. “Basically, we have given the time slot. On Australia-India match days we will either have to keep the dates free for rest and practice, or else we will play only one match,” said Wickramaratne. On other days there will be two back-to-back matches played each day.
The India-Australia white ball series matches (ODI and T20I) are scheduled to be played between 27 November and 8 December. The LPL is expected to finish on 15 or 16 December.