Kolkata Knight Riders captain Shreyas Iyer won the toss against Punjab Kings and opted to field, keeping in mind what he referred to as the “swimming pool” of dew that’s visible in the evenings.
And his decision was vindicated as Umesh Yadav’s four-for 23 helped Knight Riders restrict Punjab Kings to 137 at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday, before Andre Russell’s unbeaten 70 (31b, 2x4, 8x6) guided the team to a convincing six-wicket win, with 33 balls to spare.
Pursuing a modest target, KKR got off to a shaky start, losing both openers Ajinkya Rahane and Venkatesh Iyer with just 38 on the board. Shreyas and Nitish Rana added 13 runs before leg-spinner Rahul Chahar removed both in the span of just three balls.
With KKR struggling at 51-4, the seasoned Russell rose to the occasion and forged an unbeaten 90-run stand with Sam Billings (24n.o., 23b, 1x4, 1x6) for the fifth wicket to guide the team home.
Russell, who had a sore shoulder in the previous game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, got stuck into the Punjab bowlers. In the 12th over, he hit Odean Smith for a four and three sixes. Billings too hit a six off the last ball as the duo amassed 30 off the over.
That proved to be the turning point, with Russell ensuring there were no further jolts for KKR.
Earlier, Umesh struck on the last ball of his opening over as his fuller length delivery had Punjab captain Mayank Agarwal plumb leg before for a solitary run. After the captain’s exit, Sri Lankan Bhanuka Rajapaksa (31,9b, 3x4, 3x6) put on a 41-run stand for the second wicket with Shikhar Dhawan, who scored 16.
Pacer Shivam Mavi, replacing stumper Sheldon Jackson in the KKR XI, came in as the first bowling change in the fourth over. Rajapaksa welcomed him with a four and followed it up with three sixes in a row before being caught at extra cover by Tim Southee in the same over.
While that 22-run-over gave the spectators enough reasons to rejoice, Punjab Kings couldn’t flex its muscles after Rajapaksa’s exit. Southee (two for 36) soon dismissed Dhawan.
A middle-order collapse saw PBKS struggling at 102-7. Punjab would not have crossed the 130-run mark without Kagiso Rabada’s 16-ball-25. He added 35 for the ninth wicket with Smith. However, that was not enough.
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