Kolkata Knight Riders stepped on the ground in Dubai on Sunday evening knowing fully well that only one playoffs spot remains up for grabs. The team showed the intent to go for it right from the word go after Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper Kane Williamson won the toss and elected to bat.
The KKR bowlers set up the platform by restricting the rivals to 115 for eight and then opener Subhman Gill led from the front to take the side home getting 119 runs losing four wickets. The six-wicket victory kept the Kolkata side firmly on course to make the last four with 12 points and Rajasthan Royals to play in their last encounter.
Except for a small phase in the middle overs when eight runs came from 24 balls (7-10th over), SRH bowlers failed to build up enough pressure. Gill then broke free as he came down the wicket to lift Rashid Khan over the mid-wicket boundary to bring up the 50 of the innings. He got two fours off Jason Holder’s next over and added two more off consecutive deliveries of Jammu & Kashmir pacer Umran Malik, who made his debut for SRH coming in for Sandeep Sharma, to tilt the balance in KKR’s favour. The youngster got his first 50 of this IPL with a fine placement to the mid-wicket boundary off Malik. By the time he departed for 57 (51b, 4×10), KKR had almost sealed the deal.
The purple brigade’s decision to strengthen the bowling unit by fielding Shakib Al Hasan in place of Tim Seifert paid rich dividends. Playing his first match in the IPL second leg, the Bangladesh allrounder combined so well with KKR’s mystery spinning duo of Sunil Narine and Varun Chakaravarthy that KKR skipper Eoin Morgan did not even have to think of Venkatesh Iyer or Nitish Rana the bowlers.
The three not only choked the SRH innings in the middle overs giving away just 58 runs, but shared three wickets in their 12 overs at an economy rate of 4.33. While Narine was most economical with none for 12, Shakib bagged one wicket for 20 runs and Chakravarthy returned for two for 26.
SRH’s poor batting form continued as KKR bowlers made early inroads. Tim Southee drew first blood trapping opener Wriddhiman Saha in front in the second delivery of the match, although the HawkEye later showed the ball was perhaps travelling above the stumps. Youngster Shivam Mavi then got the other opener Jason Roy caught by Southee just inside the circle at mid-on in the fourth over.
However, the biggest jolt to the SRH innings was provided by Shakib who moved across the pitch after delivery to pick up the ball and threw down the stumps at the bowler’s end to ran out Williamson just after the New Zealand batsman hit Mavi for four boundaries, all through the off side, to collect 18 runs in the last over of the powerplay. However, that’s the only over to really talk about by the SRH batsmen as all of them struggled against some tight bowling.