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Windies' Russell gears up for World Cup with IPL milestone

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Windies' Russell gears up for World Cup with IPL milestone
Cricket - West Indies v India - World Twenty20 cricket tournament semi-final - Mumbai, India - 31/03/2016. West Indies Andre Russell celebrates after winning their match. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui   -   Copyright  Danish Siddiqui(Reuters)
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(Reuters) – West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell became only the second player to hit 50 sixes in an Indian Premier League (IPL) season, matching the achievement of compatriot Chris Gayle, in Kolkata Knight Riders’ 34-run win over Mumbai Indians on Sunday.

A day before his 31st birthday, Russell smashed eight sixes and six boundaries in his unbeaten 40-ball 80 to help fifth-placed Kolkata snap a six-game losing streak and keep their playoff hopes alive.

Gayle smashed 59 sixes in the 2012 season before hitting 51 the following year while playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore and Russell listed the attributes that have left him with a chance of bettering those figures.

“Eye and hand coordination. Balance and then good bat speed as well. I generate a lot power from the shoulders and then the core. So everything goes together,” man-of-the-match Russell said during the post-match presentation ceremony.

“As an all-rounder, you have to make sure your body is fit and strong. To play awkward shots in those moments when a bowler tries to outsmart you with a wide slower ball… to hit the ball over covers cleanly.”

Russell’s blistering form bodes well for the West Indies who have recalled the all-rounder to their World Cup squad for the May 30-July 14 tournament in England and Wales.

West Indies, champions in 1975 and 1979, begin their campaign on May 31 against Pakistan in Nottingham.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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