Fourteen matches. Strike rate of 204.81—the highest. Five hundred and ten runs—fifth highest. Eleven wickets. That's how Andre Russell's performance card for Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2019 looked.
The burly West Indian all-rounder entered the World Cup bristling with form. But it has been an anti-climax for him at cricket's biggest stage—he scored only 36 runs in three innings and five wickets in four matches. Barring the Pakistan match, where Russell took two wickets for four runs in three overs, he failed miserably to make an impact.
It is believed that his recurring knee injury led to the dip in form, and ultimately ruled him out of the rest of the tournament. Russell's exit, however, has paved the way for the entry of Sunil Ambris in the 15-member squad.
Ambris, 26, made his ODI debut in September 2017, against England, and went on to make his Test debut the same year in December, against New Zealand. It was 'baptism by fire' for Ambris, as he became the first cricketer to be dismissed hit-wicket off the first ball of his Test career. In the second innings, however, he became only the sixth batsman to hit a six as the first scoring shot in Tests. It didn't stop there—he was hit-wicket again in the second Test at Hamilton! He also fractured his left-arm in the second innings of that Test.
He has had a decent first-class career, with an average of 32.04 in 54 matches.
The 'eventful' Test debut notwithstanding, six-ODI-old Ambris has been impressive in the 50-over format, with one hundred—148 against Ireland this year in May—and one fifty. A middle-order batsman, Ambris was promoted as an opener in the tri-series, with Bangladesh being the other team.
His new batting position might help the West Indies, as regular opener Evin Lewis hurt his hamstring in the last match against New Zealand.
However, it remains to be seen whether Ambris will make the playing XI if Lewis isn't fit for the match against India on June 27.