‘Supergiants’ dwarfed by the Knight Riders : Royal Pune Supergiants (RPS) were ‘cut to size’ in their own backyard by Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) when both ‘locked horns’ on a lazy Sunday evening at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune.
Put into bat, the home team was ‘carried on the shoulders’ by their opener Ajinkya Rahane, whose 52-ball 67 runs studded with 4 fours and 3 sixes and a rearguard action by the skipper, Mahendra Singh Dhoni scoring a brisk 23 runs off just 12 deliveries with 2 fours and a six, helped RPS to put up a decent 160 runs for the loss of 5 wickets in 20 overs and this was a very much defendable total, given the kind of bowling attack RPS had.
Losing Faf du Plessis (4) very early in the innings, Rahane and Steven Smith (31) built up a very useful second wicket partnership of 56 runs in 8.2 overs.
The second delivery of the 12th over bowled by Rajagopal Satish to Rahane saw Smith make a blunder by running towards the striking end even before Rahane had played the ball.
It was a very slow delivery on the leg, Rahane backed away and drilled it back to Satish. The ball landed just in front of him (Satish) and he collected cleanly. Smith was well down, looking for some momentum. Satish quickly whipped off the bails and Smith was unfortunately run out.
This was a big blow from which RPS never recovered. Though Albie Morkel went for a few big hits, could not sustain and was ‘done in’ by Umesh Yadav. However, Dhoni’s whirlwind innings took the team to a stage of respectability.
Rahane’s half-century came in 42 deliveries with 4 fours and a six.
Gambhir tried seven bowlers and all of them ended up with an economy in excess of 7, with the exception of Shakib al Hasan who returned with the analysis of 3-0-14-1.
Chasing 161 runs, KKR had a disastrous start, losing Robin Uthappa on the very first ball of the innings.
To a full length delivery on the middle and leg from Albie Morkel, which Uthappa shuffled across, missed a flick and was struck on the pads. The umpire had no hesitation in declaring Uthappa ‘leg before wicket’.
The young Surya Kumar Yadav rose to the occasion and was the fifth wicket to fall but not before registering a well deserved half-century that came off 39 deliveries with 5 fours and 2 sixes.
Eventually after involving in three good partnerships, 31 runs in 2.4 overs for the second wicket alongwith Gambhir (11), 29 runs in 3.4 overs for the third wicket alongwith Shakib al Hasan (3) and a huge 51 runs in 7.5 overs for the fourth wicket alongwith Yusuf Pathan (36), Yadav, failing to pick up a ‘googly’ from Murugan Ashwin, that spun back as an off-break and struck him on the pads right in front of the stumps.
Yadav scored 60 runs off 49 deliveries with 6 fours and 2 sixes.
At this stage KKR had put up 119 runs for the loss of 5 wickets in 16 runs, requiring another 42 runs off 24 deliveries at an asking rate of 10.50.
The following batsmen Andre Russell (17), Rajagopal Satish (10), Piyush Chawla (8) and Umesh Yadav (7) took the team across the line and won the game by 2 wickets with 3 deliveries to spare.
RPS key bowlers Albie Morkel (3-0-36-2) and Ravichandran Ashwin (2-0-21-0) proved very costly. Ravichandran Ashwin not bowling his full quota of overs is a cause of concern for RPS.
For his brilliant efforts with the bat, Surya Kumar Yadav was adjudged the Player of the Match.
Speaking at the post match presentation, Yadav said, “”I was told by my captain, that I have to express myself. Carrying my form from the last game. Did not finish the game but happy that it came in a winning cause. First 8 overs would have been crucial because later it was difficult for the batsmen to capitalise. Winning against this challenging side on this wicket, it shows good signs.”
Visibly dejected MS Dhoni, said, “Difficult to hit the spinners. When i got time, I told the spinners not to bowl up to the batsmen. Still five were hit. 30 runs were scored. No excuses for us. It”s not about what should have happened. It”s about how you execute your plans in the field. That is when you relish it and what it takes to win games in the pressure, We are definitely lacking it, especially the bowling unit. Someone like an Ashwin, he is new and he will feel the pressure. You can advise individuals, but when you have the ball, nothing can be done for you. Overall plenty of areas where we have to improve.”
About the win, an elated Gambhir said, “”Very important because me and Robin did not perform. Suryakumar, the way he batted, unbelievable. Manish was a big blow, to push someone like Surya was a big gamble. He gives us a lot of options. We didn”t bowl really well. in the last 3-4 overs, we could be ,more professional. I thought they”d end up getting 145. We need to pick up our bowling socks. Overall, more positives than the negatives.”
In an earlier game between Gujarat Lions and Royal Challenger Bangalore, played at Rajkot, the Lions overcame the Royal Challenge by winning the game. Dinesh Karthik’s unbeaten half-century ‘got the better of’ Virat Kohli’s maiden unbeaten T20 century.