Kolkata Knight Riders produced an all-round show as they registered a thumping 54-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad to stay in contention for IPL 2022 playoffs at the MCA Stadium in Pune on Saturday. Batting first, KKR posted a challenging 177/6 and then stopped SRH at 123/8 for their sixth win in 13 attempts which has seen them climb up to the sixth spot in the standings.
SRH never looked in the chase as they lost captain Kane Williamson and Rahul Tripathi cheaply. Opener Abhishek Sharma (43) and Aiden Markram (32) tried to rebuild the innings but KKR continued to hit them with regular strikes.
Russell, who earlier starred with the bat to push KKR to what turned out to be a winning total, dazzled with the ball to as he took 3/22 from his four overs.
Earlier, Umran Malik was back in his groove after a few forgettable outings as he ran through KKR top-order before Russell’s 49 not out propel them to 177/6.
Also Read: KKR vs SRH Match Highlights
Russell along with Sam Billings (34 off 29 balls) added 63 runs for the sixth wicket helping them recover from a tricky 94/5 at one stage.
KKR added 58 runs in the last five overs, mainly due to Russell as he hit three sixes off three full-tosses bowled by off-break bowler Washington Sundar (0/40 in 4 overs).
Malik (3/33 in 4 overs), who had gone for 120-odd runs in his last 10 overs (across 3 games) and that too wicketless, was back in his element as he bowled fast and straight to get rid of Nitish Rana (26 off 16 balls), Ajinkya Rahane (28 off 23 balls) and skipper Shreyas Iyer (15 off 9 balls) in his first two overs to peg back KKR.
He did get good support from T Natarajan (1/43), who nailed the block-hole deliveries with perfection, getting rid of Rinku Singh (5), who missed out on taking review although it would have counted for little.
Venkatesh Iyer’s “second season blues” continued as he chopped one from Marco Jansen (1/30 in 4 overs) onto the stumps.
As far as Rahane is concerned, he has well past his IPL sell-by date and even three sixes couldn’t hide the fact that he played a lot of dot balls and once he started cramping, it became even more difficult to rotate the strike.
Finally he was out when he slashed hard at a wide rising delivery and Shashank Singh at sweeper cover fence maintained perfect body balance in a side on position to latch on to the catch.
The KKR batting finally looked good when Russell and Billings took the attack back to the opposition camp with some big blows after initial period of struggle.
While the Jamaican had three fours and four sixes to his name, Billings, on his part, hit three fours and one maximum.
Towards the end of the innings, wily Bhuvneshwar bowled his change-ups to lessen Russell’s scoring areas as he had an impressive 13 dot balls in his entire spell.
The win has improved KKR’s hopes of a top-four finish but SRH will not only have to win their final two games but also hope other results go their way to make it to the playoffs now.
With PTI Inputs