Mohammed Siraj steam-rollered Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) with a blistering fast-bowling display (4-2-8-3) at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. The 84 runs that KKR managed for the loss of eight wickets was the lowest total in IPL history for a team that wasn’t bowled out. Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) romped home with eight wickets and more than six overs to spare.
Pat Cummins was economical in the PowerPlay (3-0-18-0) but KKR needed wickets. Lockie Ferguson, who had impressed with five wickets, including two in Super Over, against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) on Sunday, was introduced only in the seventh over, by which point Devdutt Padikkal (25, 17b) and Aaron Finch (16, 21b) had slashed the target by half and there was no turning around.
The win lifted Virat Kohli’s men to second spot (14 points) and ever so closer to a playoff spot that has eluded the side since the run to the final in 2016. For KKR, the crushing defeat can potentially drag the side into the scrap for the fourth playoff spot.
Kohli lost the toss, but struck gold with every roll of the dice, right from selecting Siraj in place of Shahbaz Ahmed, to the bowling changes he rang in through the contest. KKR never recovered from Siraj’s opening spell (3-2-2-3). The pacer made full use of the moderate swing, and was aided by some impulsive batting.
KKR scored just 17 runs in the PowerPlay for the loss of four wickets. Rahul Tripathi (1) went first, caught by AB de Villiers while trying to glide an away-going delivery from Siraj to third man. Nitish Rana was out next ball when he pushed forward without accounting for the movement, only for the ball to curl in and hit the off stump.
Navdeep Saini, the first-change bowler, excised Shubman Gill (1), whose aggressive front-foot pull took a top edge and nestled in the palms of Chris Morris in the mid-wicket region. Tom Banton, who replaced Andre Russell, drove a half-volley beautifully down the ground and then sent Saini soaring over the deep square-leg boundary. But his counter-attack was short-lived, caught by de Villiers when he swung at Siraj without moving his feet.
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Siraj’s first two overs were both maidens, the first time in IPL history anyone had done so. These were superb returns for someone who has often got the stick for being profligate.
Then, the Yuzvendra Chahal-Washington Sundar double act suffocated KKR with just 16 runs coming off six overs (nine to 14). Chahal trapped Dinesh Karthik leg-before with a ball that held its line and then outwitted Cummins with a teaser. When Washington snuffed out Morgan (30, 34b, 3x4, 1x6) in the 16th over, all hopes of a KKR recovery had evaporated.