Fighting knocks by Andre Russell (49 not out off 28) and Sam Billings (34 off 29) guided Kolkata Knight Riders to 177-6 against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 61st match of the IPL 2022 at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, here on Saturday.
KKR were struggling for 94/5 after 11.3 overs but Russell and Billings stitched a partnership of 63 runs for the sixth wicket. The pair brought KKR back into the game and ensured they had a solid total on the board.
After winning the toss and opting to bat, KKR got off to a shaky start as they lost their opener Venkatesh Iyer (7) in the last delivery of the second over. Marco Jansen bowled a length ball outside off and the left-hander wanted to play it towards point but he chopped the delivery back onto the stumps.
Another left-hander Nitish Rana then joined senior pro Ajinkya Rahane in the middle. Rana took some time to adjust to the conditions of the Pune before smashing T. Natarajan for 18 runs in his over. On the other hand, Rahane too struck some boundaries as KKR reached to KKR 55-1 at the end of the powerplay.
Both Rahane and Rana were going strong and it seemed that they had brought KKR back on the track with their 48-run stand before Umran Malik changed the momentum in SRH’s favour.
Bowling his first over, Malik dismissed a well-set Rana (26 off 16), who chipped the ball on the on-side and Shashank Singh covered a good distance from the fine-leg to complete the catch. Skipper Shreyas Iyer walked in to bat and struck a boundary on his first ball but Rahane got on the final delivery of the eighth over, leaving KKR to 72-3.
Washington Sundar then bowled an economical over to maintain the pressure on KKR. Malik continued his domination with the ball and in his second over he got rid of Shreyas (15), who tried to flick a ball coming on his pads but found Rahul Tripathi at mid-wicket.
Soon after, Natarajan trapped Rinku Singh in front of the wicket with a deadly yorker, putting Kolkata under tremendous pressure. But Russell and Billings led KKR’s fightback. The duo took the cautious approach for the next few overs and at the same time also hit boundaries whenever they got bad deliveries, taking KKR to 119/5 after 15 overs.
With five overs to go, both Russell and Billings decided to free their arms, scoring 10, 13 and 9 respectively in the next three overs. However, Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled an excellent 19th over, where he conceded just six runs and took the wicket of Billings. The decision to bowl Washington Sundar in the last over of the innings backfired for SRH as Russell hit the off-spinner for three sixes and helped KKR finish on 177/6.
Umran Malik (3/33) was the most successful bowler for SRH while Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/27), Marco Jansen (1/30) and T. Natarajan also chipped in with one wicket each.
Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 177/6 in 20 overs (Andre Russell 49 not out, Sam Billings 34; Umran Malik 3/33) vs Sunrisers Hyderabad