KKR and RR faced off for a humdinger of a clash at the Dubai International cricket stadium in another potential eliminator for the second match of the day. The loser of this match gets outright eliminated from the race to the playoffs but the winner does not qualify for the playoffs either. The winner stays alive though and their playoff fate will depend on the remaining 2 matches.
Steve Smith won the toss and sent KKR in to bat on a surface that threatened to get slow with the progression of the innings. RR was, however, more intent on exploiting the dew that would set in at the later half of the match. As expected, KKR brought in Andre Russell for their final league stage encounter – a final punt to lend balance to a side that has blown hot and cold in this tournament.
KKR began the all-important match in a disastrous fashion. Nitish Rana was dismissed early on, being unable to tackle the speed of Jofra Archer. Archer looked absolutely unplayable in his first couple of overs in the powerplay as he breathed fire to burn both Gill and Tewatia. Luckily both the youngsters survived the spell and were extremely relieved when his first 2 overs were completed.
The first bit of inexplicable strategy from Smith tonight came in the powerplay. Even after knowing that both Gill and Tripathi are getting perturbed by sheer pace, he did not use Kartik Tyagi in the powerplay. The U19 star has been a valuable bowler for RR in the powerplay, but yet he went to Shreyas Gopal, who conceded 17 to hand over the momentum to KKR in the powerplay. The fact that KKR ended up scoring 55 off the powerplay, in spite of Jofra conceding just 3 runs off his 2 overs, speaks volumes about how RR bowling has been mainly about Archer.
Gill and Tripathi played very vital knocks for KKR tonight as they consolidated at a brisk pace scoring 70 off the first 8 overs. However, Gill could not effectively change gears once again, as he got holed out to deep midwicket off Tewatia’s bowling. Narine, Tripathi, and DK departed in quick succession and suddenly KKR was staring at a subpar score. Once again, KKR was left to play the catchup game after an excellent start.
But tonight was time for KKR’s latest recruits to show mettle. From being in a soup, Morgan, and Russell took the attack to the opposition. Morgan looked in his own for the first time in the tournament as he ripped apart Shreyas Gopal for a 21 run over. It was a no brainer that Smith had kept Archer for Russell. Russell however, showed shades of his last year form as well, as he despatched Archer for 2 consecutive sixes throwing Smith’s plan into disarray.
The duo of Russell and Archer plundered 46 off 3 overs to take KKR to 146 in 15 overs. That blitzkrieg of a partnerhsip changed the game for KKR. Before the duo could cause further damage to RR, Kartik Tyagi dismissed Russell with an excellent wide yorker. Kartik Tyagi, as a bowler has impressed me this IPL big time and we hopefully see more of him in the upcoming years.
KKR posted a massive total of 194 in their allotted 20 overs courtesy of some late over pyrotechnics from Morgan and Cummins. Morgan demolished his teammate Ben Stokes as the left-hander scored 21 from the 19th over. The KKR captain ultimately finished off with 68 from 35 balls and ensured that he gave his bowlers a good total to defend.
The second inning was so much about Pat Cummins. There has been a lot of talk about how he has been the most worthless buy for KKR, as he failed to pick up wickets for the men in purple. Tonight, he began the inning on a bad note as well conceding 19 off his first 5 balls.
As I have stated time and again, cricket is a great leveler. After conceding 19 from his first 5 balls, Pat Cummins picked up 4 wickets in the powerplay to dismantle the RR top order. Cummins utilized the seam movement to his advantage, much like Bumrah yesterday, and made life difficult for the men in pink.
However, out of these 4 wickets of Cummins, one of them belongs to DK. That catch of Stokes was mindblowing, to say the least. The fact, that DK was caught wrong-footed and had to fly to take that blinder made the effort more majestic. The catch indeed brought back memories of Durban 2007 when DK caught Graeme Smith similarly at 3rd slip.
Having lost half their side in the powerplay because of some disciplined bowling from Mavi and Cummins, RR lost any hope of winning the match pretty early. Smith, Parag, Uthappa, and Stokes all fell to the Australian and KKR sniffed victory, as early as the 6th over of the match. Varun Chakravarthy scalped the only man, capable of pulling out a jailbreak for RR- Jos Butler soon after to finish RR’s journey in this tournament.
KKR won the match by 60 runs to stay alive in the competition. Varun Chakravarthy ended with figures 2 for 20. It must be kept in mind that in an illustrious bowling lineup, which has Narine, Cummins, and Russell, Varun is the highest wicket-taker for KRK this season with 17 wickets. We really we will see him in Indian colors pretty soon.