Nitish Rana and Andre Russell fired in the latter half to help Kolkata Knight Riders put on a respectable total. But Rahul Tripathi and Aiden Markram’s blitzkrieg outshone it, ensuring the handy work of pace quartet didn’t go waste as Sunrisers Hyderabad registered a hat-trick of wins in the Indian Premier League.
Thanks to Tripathi and Markram’s 94-run association in just nine overs, Sunrisers made meat of the target of 176 on Friday night, winning by seven wickets with 13 balls to spare at the Cricket Club of India’s Brabourne Stadium.
Tripathi gave the Knight Riders every reason to repent its decision to withdraw from the bidding war during the player auction by racing to a 21-ball 50 en route to a match-winning 71 (37b, 4x4, 6x6). The highlight of his innings was his assault on mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy.
As soon as Varun came on to bowl in the eighth over, Tripathi employed his trademark lofted cover drive for three balls in succession to collect 16 runs. That set the Knight Riders, who had seen the back of both the openers in the Powerplay.
Tripathi continued to torment his former teammates before perishing on the boundary line in the 15th over. However, Markram carried on his strokeful innings, with Nicholas Pooran for company, against a hapless bowling attack in dewy conditions.
Earlier, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Marco Jansen started the innings on a perfect note, giving little room to Venkatesh Iyer and Aaron Finch, who became the first cricketer to play for nine IPL teams.
T. Natarajan, the most successful of the lot, and Umran Malik then carried on the good work to not only make run-scoring difficult but also strike regularly. While Natarajan struck twice in his first over, the pick of the night was Malik, the Jammu & Kashmir Express. Clocking consistently in the mid-and high-140kph, Malik even crossed the 150 kph mark in a fiery burst of pace bowling.
Besides, he bowled in the perfect channel to rattle Knight Riders’ captain Shreyas Iyer. Playing and missing consistently in Malik’s first two overs, Shreyas finally tried to make room outside off, only to see a yorker crashing into the stumps.
Rana and Russell’s calculated risks yielded the Knight Riders a whopping 105 runs off the last 10 overs. However, the damage inflicted by the SRH pacers in the first half proved to be the decisive factor.