Kolkata Knight Riders maintained their clean sheet against Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Eden Gardens, handing them their fifth loss at the venue. Robin Uthappa (68), Manish Pandey (46) and the bowlers came to the fore for the hosts in the 14th clash of IPL 2017. Set to chase 173 to win on a dry surface, SRH could only manage 155 as Sunil Narine (1 for 18) and Kuldeep Yadav (1 for 23) spun a web around them to lead the team to a 17-run win.
Where was the match won?Two things turned the match in KKR’s favour. The Uthappa-Pandey stand in the first innings and the middle-overs choke by the bowlers in the chase. KKR were in a tricky situation at 40 for 2 in the sixth over and needed a steady stand. That’s when Uthappa and Pandey collaborated to score 77 runs in 8.4 overs to lay a solid platform and put the hosts in a position of strength.
SRH had gotten off to a solid start with David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan scoring 45 runs in the Powerplay. However, that’s when KKR dried up the runs and reaped rewards with wickets. Yusuf Pathan dismissed Dhawan while Warner continued to struggle against Kuldeep Yadav. As the scoring rate mounted, so did the pressure on the SRH batsmen. From over seven to 15, they scored 71 runs and lost five crucial wickets at key junctures. Yuvraj Singh looked threatening during his 16-ball 26 but with little support from the other end, he was left with too much to do.
Uthappa rides his luck; Pandey dazzles againUthappa rode his luck during his 39-ball stay but things could have been very different. The first ball he faced – the ball from Bhuvneshwar Kumar – kissed the bat face and landed in the ‘keeper’s gloves. Everyone spotted the nick except the umpire. That wasn’t it.
Uthappa was dropped by Shikhar Dhawan in the 13th at deep mid-wicket when he was on 47 and then survived a caught behind appeal in the very next over. Trying to play a scoop, the ball lobbed towards Naman Ojha, who took a good catch diving forward. What worked in Uthappa’s favour was that the decision was referred to the third umpire, who ruled that the batsman didn’t hit the ball.
In between the opportunities, Uthappa did exceptionally well to nullify the Rashid Khan threat. He looked fairly comfortable picking his variations and ensured he picked some crucial runs in the first half of the innings after SRH had tightened the noose. Uthappa fell trying to pull a short ball from Ben Cutting and was caught at deep mid-wicket but his innings gave KKR the perfect launch pad in the last five overs.
Throughout Uthappa’s innings, Manish Pandey played second fiddle ensuring no wickets were given to Rashid. He changed his approach soon after Uthappa’s dismissal and attacked Cutting to propel the team towards a competitive total. His dismissal, after he had stroked a 36-ball 45, meant KKR were able to score just 22 in the last three overs.
If Rashid doesn’t get you, Bhuvneshwar willKKR did well to play out Rashid for 29 and giving him just one wicket. However, that’s where SRH’s strength came to the fore. They don’t bank on one particular bowler, so when Rashid was played out, Bhuvneshwar brought all his experience into play and dismissed Pandey and Colin de Grandhomme to end with 3 for 20 from his four overs. He gave away just four runs in the 18th over and then just nine in the last over to pull things back for the visitors.
Umpiring in focus, yet again.The umpiring in this edition of the IPL hasn’t been great. Soon after Uthappa escaped a poor decision in the third over, the umpiries were in focus again in the 13th over. The umpires on the field had referred a caught behind appeal to the third umpire with the soft signal being out. Convinced the catch was clean, the television umpire started checking if Uthappa had actually edged the ball into his pads before it lobbed up towards the ‘keeper. Abhijit Deshmukh concluded there was no contact between the bat and ball leaving David Warner and Tom Moody fuming. However, the correct decision was made in the end as the playing conditions actually specify the television umpire was well within his rights to check that too. What that also brought about was the on-field umpire – Anil Dandekar, who had adjudged there was an inside edge, had made another poor call.
Where do the teams go from here?Knight Riders head to Delhi to take on the Delhi Daredevils on April 17, which is yet another 4 PM contest for Gautam Gambhir and Co. Meanwhile, SRH face Kings XI Punjab on the same day at home in an evening clash.
Brief Scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 172/6 in 20 overs (Robin Uthappa 68, Manish Pandey 46; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3-20) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 155/6 in 20 overs (Yuvraj Singh 26, David Warner 26; Chris Woakes 2-49, Sunil Narine 1-18) by 17 runs.