A fine debut from Harry Gurney and a devastating opening partnership by Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine helped the Kolkata Knight Riders to take the top spot of the points table in this year’s IPL.
After winning the toss, KKR opted to bowl first on a slowish Jaipur pitch. They bowled extremely well to restrict the home side for just 28 runs in the powerplay including the wicket of the opposition captain Ajinkya Rahane.
Rajasthan Royals struggled to score freely throughout their innings and middling efforts from Jos Buttler (37 of 34) and Steve Smith (73* of 59) took them to a mediocre total of 139.
Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine’s brisk 91-run partnership made sure that KKR goes past the target without much fuss. In the end, Robin Uthappa’s 16-ball 26* cameo also helped KKR to chase the target inside 14 overs.
Let’s have a look at the three talking points of the match.
3) Steve Smith gets into the groove with a gritty innings
After being sidelined for over a year due to the ball-tampering saga, Steve Smith finally got some runs under his belt in the ongoing IPL. Though he scored at a very slow-rate, considering the sluggish Jaipur pitch, his innings will give him a lot of confidence going forward in the tournament.
RR lost their captain Ajinkya Rahane in the second over of the match and Smith joined hands with Jos Buttler to steady the innings. But both failed to score quickly as KKR bowled some good lines in the powerplay. Smith took 16 balls to score his first boundary, but once Buttler got out, RR’s innings revolved around Smith’s batting. With the help of 7 fours and a six, he ended with 73* of 59 balls to take RR to 139.
Despite he hasn’t made significant contributions to his team like David Warner is performing for the Sunrisers Hyderabad, Smith playing his bit for the Royals with 159 runs in the four innings he played. But he needs to improve his strike rate of 116.91 to help Royals score more quickly in the crucial middle overs phase.
2) Harry Gurney’s spell put breaks on the Royals innings
Harry Gurney has a vast experience in T20 circuits with 125 games and 147 wickets to his name. The English bowler finally made his IPL debut against the Royals and displayed all his intelligent and deceptive variations to solve some of the KKR’s bowling woes.
He came to the attack in the 1oth over of the RR’s innings and promptly surprised Smith with his variations in the deliveries and conceded just 3 runs. In his next over, he dismissed the dangerous Buttler, immediately after being hit for a six. Later, he removed Rahul Tripathi in his third over for just six runs. And he gave away only 8 runs in the last over of the innings to end with figures of 2/25 to be adjudged Man of the Match.
His impressive performance on debut will reduce some of the headaches in the bowling department for the KKR team management, especially after they conceded 180+ runs in all their previous matches in this season.
1) Lynn & Narine took the game away in the powerplay from RR’s grasp
Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine gave a blazing start to the KKR’s innings in the powerplay. Chasing a 140 run target at 7 r.p.o, the dynamic duo garnered 65 runs in the first six overs to reduce the required rate to just 6 r.p.o. This is KKR’s highest score after the powerplay in this year’s IPL.
Luck also played it’s part, as Narine dropped on 23 by Tripathi. Lynn also got away, with the bails refused to fall off from a Dhawal Kulkarni’s delivery. They continued their carnage after the powerplay also to cut short the work for the next batsmen. By the time Narine got out for a 25-ball 47, KKR already has 91 runs on the board in just 8 overs. Their partnership completely took the game away from RR’s grasp.
Lynn went on to score his seventh IPL fifty and immediately fell for a 32-ball 50 off Shreyas Gopal. But the damage was already done, as KKR steered past the target with another six overs left.