Shubman Gill played a mature knock as Kolkata Knight Riders ran out comfortable winners by seven wickets over Sunrisers Hyderabad to open their account in this year’s IPL. This was KKR’s 11th win in 18 outings against the same opposition.
Gill, who was out cheaply in Kolkata’s opener, hit five boundaries and a couple of sixes in his unbeaten 70 off 62 balls. He did not put a foot wrong. Together with World Cup winner Eoin Morgan (42 in 29), the duo ensured the target of 143 was overhauled with two overs to spare. The fourth-wicket partnership contributed 92 runs in only 70 balls.
Both Sunil Narine and skipper Dinesh Karthik had gone back to the pavilion without troubling the scorers but Gill never panicked, dispatching the loose deliveries comprehensibly. Nitish Rana at No 3 had come in and hit a few lusty blows to put the pressure on the SRH bowlers.
It was the KKR bowlers who ensured the batsmen had such a small target to chase. One of the best decisions taken by skipper Karthik was giving the new ball to record purchase Pat Cummins. And the Aussie speedster repaid his captain’s faith by picking up Bairstow in his second over.
He constantly troubled the opposition with his probing line and length, a far cry from the opener where he constantly bowled short of a length. The other bowling options also kept it tight, not allowing the Orange Army to accelerate at any point in the contest.
After their implosion, while going for extravagant shots in their opening match, Sunrisers Hyderabad batsmen were far more circumspect as they ended up with 142/4 in 20 overs. It was far from a vintage batting display as they managed to score the third lowest IPL score for a team that lost only four wickets.
It seemed skipper David Warner’s words of not giving away one’s wicket cheaply was taken onboard by Manish Pandey, who anchored the innings, scoring 51 in 38 balls.
Pandey, who came in after the early dismissal of opener Jonny Bairstow, batted till the 18th over, fully aware of the fact that the 2016 champions have a brittle middle-order. It was a smart knock by the former KKR batsman, only going after loose deliveries and he ran well between the wickets as well. He was eventually dismissed by Andre Russell.
The rest of the batters did not light the stage on fire. The skipper was looking in fine fettle and seemed intent on leading from the front. While he was batting in tandem with Pandey, the run-rate was also on the higher side. But a soft dismissal of mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy for 36 off 30 deliveries derailed the momentum of the innings and the rest just could not accelerate.
Wriddhiman Saha, brought in to replace Vijay Shankar, tried to force the issue but could not connect most of the time. He was dismissed for 30.