After winning four of their first five matches of this IPL season, Kolkata Knight Riders have lost their last six matches on the bounce. Their batting has come under plenty of criticism for the situation they find themselves in, but Andre Russell believes the blame lies elsewhere.
"We have a good team," Russell said on the eve of Knight Riders' match against Mumbai Indians. "But having a good team and making bad decisions, I think you will always lose games. And that's what we've been doing.
"I could pinpoint a few games where if we'd just looked to bowl tighter, and bowl bowlers who would restrict the game - the right bowlers at the right time [the results would've been different]. They say our batting has been struggling, but our batting hasn't been struggling really. We get the totals that we should defend, and we should restrict teams to lesser totals and go in and get those runs. And we don't really take our catches, we've been the worst fielding team so far. It's plain on TV, everyone's seeing it."
As an example of Knight Riders' inability to defend totals, he picked their most recent game, against Rajasthan Royals - a "weak batting line-up" - who chased down 176 after slipping to 123 for 6.
"I'm disappointed that we played Rajasthan Royals recently and got defeated by a weak batting line-up," Russell said. "If you can't restrict a team for under 170-plus with our bowling attack, then against a strong team like Mumbai we're going to need miracles. We just have to count on our belief. If we win the next three games, chances are that things might go our way. But we have to win our games."
Russell has been Knight Riders' standout performer this season - with 406 runs at a strike rate of nearly 210, and eight wickets - but he says his team's performances have left him deflated.
"To be in this position is not the most healthiest," Russell said. "I find myself just being in my room for the last couple of days. Losing game after game… I'm not the type of guy to go walking around like I'm doing something good. Even if I score a half-century or get five wickets and we come out on the losing end, it doesn't make me want to leave my room.
"We as cricketers, we have to hold our passion inside and not show it on the television. I'm passionate inside. Sometimes it may show on the field. I may get upset at a team-mate for dropping a catch or not taking a half-chance. Because when we mess up, [opposition] guys take our half-chances. It's hard to go walking around, losing six games in a row. It's not healthy. I'm feeling down at the moment, but tomorrow when I cross that rope, my level will be 150."
As for his highly-debated batting position - he has himself advocated going higher up the order - Russell hinted at more flexibility in the matches to come.
"Yes, there have been conversations with the coach, and he's backing me to go in whenever the team needs me," Russell said. "Maybe tomorrow you'll see me a bit earlier, maybe I'll be coming in at the same lower-order spot. It all depends on what happens tomorrow. You can't predict the future.
"If we should get a good start, then maybe I'll just stay where I normally bat. I can go in at four-five overs to go, I'm happy doing that. If the team needs me to bat 12 overs tomorrow, I'm happy to bat 12. If they need me to bat three or four, that's my job."
Asked about the prospect of facing one of the best attacks in the IPL in Mumbai Indians, Russell said the pressure would be on the bowlers and not on him.
"I never fear any bowler. Never. Bowlers fear me! (laughter) I'm not bragging or anything," Russell said. "I can get out in one ball tomorrow, or the first ball they bowl can go for six. I'm not afraid to get out. It's not a life and death situation. You're giving yourself a chance to score runs, and they're trying to get you out.
"[Jasprit] Bumrah is a top bowler, [Lasith] Malinga - top bowler. But they're human beings. Tomorrow they can bowl a few balls that slip out of the fingers and don't come out like they normally come out - and I'm in business. I never back down."
The Eden Gardens crowd has witnessed four straight Knight Riders defeats. Russell was amazed that spectators were still packing the stands.
"It's been unbelievable to be honest. We keep losing game after game, but the stadium is always full," Russell said. "And I know Sunday we'll get another full crowd. It's just amazing.
"In the Caribbean, if I was playing for West Indies or Jamaica, and we lose six games in a row, you'll not see no fans to be honest. You're going to see a few die-hard fans, but you won't see the stadium full like this. People are going to say, 'you're not playing good cricket'. It's not like the English Premier League where guys look to fight. It's just amazing. I would appreciate if the stadium gets full tomorrow. That would really get me pumped, after hitting a boundary and taking a wicket to hear a big cheer. That would really keep us going."