Kolkata Knight Riders made it two wins out of two with a 28-run victory over Kings XI Punjab at home on Wednesday night, propelled by a stellar all-round batting effort that culminated into the highest total achieved at the Eden Gardens in VIVO IPL’s 11-year history.
Put into bat, KKR’s original opening pair of Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine reunited at the top of the order, made a sparkling start but it was the middle order trio of Robbie Uthappa, Nitish Rana and the usual suspect Andre Russell that powered the home side to a strong total. Rana stood out once again with a stylish 63 that came off just 34 balls and contained as many as seven sixes in his innings, before Russell tore into the KXIP bowlers, launching them repeatedly into the stands for a frenetic finish to the innings.
None of that, however, would have happened as Russell had been bowled off the perfect yorker conjured up by Mohammed Shami when the batsman was on 3, only for the on-field umpire to call no-ball, as KXIP only had three players inside the circle at the time of the delivery. KXIP’s frustration turned into disappointment as Russell smashed Shami for three consecutive sixes, and picked out Andrew Tye for more such treatment.
The target proved to be too much for the visiting KXIP batsmen, even though they came up with a spirited batting effort of their own. Despite star opener Chris Gayle not firing, KXIP ended up with 190 for 4, leaving too many runs for the end as they fell short.
David Miller, KXIP’s star South African batsman, top-scored for the visitors with an unbeaten 59, and was ably supported by Mayank Agarwal, who struck a rapid 58 off just 34 balls. Mandeep Singh chipped in with a handy unbeaten 33 at the end but the total was beyond KXIP’s reach by then. They needed their star opening pair of KL Rahul and Gayle to fire simultaneously, but Rahul’s dismissal in the second over put added pressure on Gayle at the other end, who perished for 20, spooning Russell’s very first delivery to mid off. Russell added a second wicket by removing Sarfaraz Khan for 13, and time taken by Agarwal and Miller to consolidate meant they kept falling behind the equation with every over.
Miller’s innings, however, would have come as a welcome respite for the franchise as the batsman passed 35 for the first time since 2015 in the VIVO IPL. KKR’s spin trio of Narine, Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla expertly applied the brakes on the scoring, but Miller and Agarwal were equal to it, finally breaking the shackles by adding 74 runs for the fourth wicket. Agarwal’s wicket – bowled off a Chawla googly – pretty much ended KXIP’s hopes even though Miller and Mandeep Singh played out the remaining overs still in active pursuit.
Standout batting performance
It may be a bit unfair for Nitish Rana for Russell has managed to upstage the left-hander’s two classy innings with a pair of innings so brutal that it would demoralize bowlers. Rana, however, deserves a worthy equal mention thanks to his effortless innings after KKR were off to a rollicking start thanks to Sunil Narine thumping 25 from debutant Varun Chakravarthy’s opening over. Rana, back at his familiar No. 4 spot, bossed the 110-run partnership between him and Uthappa, that needed just 66 balls. In all, Rana struck 7 sixes and 2 fours, not even allowing Ashwin to settle into a rhythm. His departure made for Russell’s entry, and after his reprieve off a no-ball, he just teed off, smashing 45 off the next 12 balls he faced.
Notable Support Act – Batting
Robin Uthappa has made it a habit of playing the support role expertly while his partner takes the lead. This time, first it was during the 110-run stand he shared with Rana, and then the manic 67-run partnership with Russell that followed. Uthappa, however, quietly went about scoring an unbeaten 67 off 50, that included negating the spin threat of Ashwin and debutant Chakravarthy, and handing over the strike to the hitters in the team.
Standout bowling performance
That all-rounders are more valuable than oil in this format is an understatement, made true thanks to the efforts of Russell with either bat in hand or ball. A dream fantasy league pick, Russell ensured he came up with a crucial bowling effort as well, first surprising countryman Gayle with a short ball that he top-edged for 20, and then removed Sarfaraz Khan with another deceptive bouncer. His figures of 2 for 21 from three overs were the best by a distance in a game every bowler disappeared into the stands.
Notable Support Act – Bowling
New Zealand’s Lockie Ferguson has been keeping the speed guns busy in the VIVO IPL, working up serious pace already despite the simmering heat in Kolkata. The mustache-wielding Kiwi sent back KL Rahul in his first over of the innings, beating the batsman for pace as he mistimed his shot to Kuldeep Yadav at mid-off, and despite going for runs, kept firing in the yorkers to keep the dangerous David Miller only to taking singles when KXIP needed boundaries.
Stat of the Match
KKR’s 218-4 was the highest total scored at the Eden Gardens in VIVO IPL history.
The high-scoring contest also saw the most number of sixes being hit in a VIVO IPL game at the Eden Gardens.
David Miller passed 35 runs for the first time since 2015 in a VIVO IPL game.
Kolkata Knight Riders: 218-4 (Robbie Uthappa 67, Nitish Rana 63, Andre Russell 48; Chakravarthy 1-35) beat Kings XI Punjab: 190-4 (David Miller 59*, Mayank Agarwal 58, Mandeep Singh 33*, Andre Russell 2-21) by 28 runs.
Man of the Match
Andre Russell, for his 48 off 17 balls and figures of 2 for 21.