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Gill, spinners give KKR some breathing space

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Kolkata Knight Riders gained two crucial points from their victory against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday (October 3) to give themselves some breathing space in the heavy traffic route for the last playoffs spot. The Knight Riders’ spinners conceded only 58 runs in the 12 overs bowled by them, which played a key role in restricting the Sunrisers to 115/8. While the batsman around him struggled, Shubman Gill guided his team in the chase with a 51-ball 57 that resulted in the Knight Riders’ six-wicket victory which helped them consolidate the fourth spot.

A sedate start for KKR’s chase

“It is touch stoppy and a little bit on the slower side,” reckoned Southee during the innings break. The nature of the pitch was evident in the way Venkatesh Iyer struggled to get a move on while Gill was edging and miscuing. Iyer eventually spooned a catch to mid off while Gill timed some of his shots well to get three boundaries within the powerplay. Rahul Tripathi also struck a four off Bhuvneshwar Kumar, but his three overs for only 13 runs and Holder’s two overs for 13 runs meant that the Knight Riders could only get 36/1 in the powerplay.

Tripathi struck a Rashid delivery straight to short mid wicket to depart for 7. While the Knight Riders had used spin to keep the Sunrisers in check after the first six overs, Williamson preferred the pace of Jammu & Kashmir’s Umran Malik (who had earlier clocked 150 kph – the fastest delivery in this IPL) to bowl in tandem with Siddarth Kaul. They both did a good job of containment, resulting in the Knight Riders managing only 44/2 at the end of 10 overs.

Gill’s assured presence guides KKR

It was a role from start to nearly the finish for Gill, who ensured that the Knight Riders’ innings did not stagnate at any stage despite the Sunrisers bowlers helping their team stage a fine fightback after posting a meagre total. When Venkatesh Iyer struggled in the powerplay, it was Gill found the boundaries to ensure the Knight Riders did not leave too much for later. He bided his time when the pacers bowled tight lines, but quickly got into the act with Nitish Rana struggling with his scoring rate at the other end.

Gill was on 25 off 29 at the end of the 10th over but he quickly changed gears and reached his first fifty in IPL 2021, off 44 deliveries. During this phase, he struck six fours that helped bring the asking rate in the Knight Riders’ control. Kaul finally dismissed Gill while Holder sent Rana back. With 10 required off the last two overs, Dinesh Karthik helped the team over the line – albeit with only two balls to spare.

Starting troubles for SRH

Wriddhiman Saha thought about a review, consulted Jason Roy, and decided not to. Sadly for him, replays revealed that the Southee delivery in the opening over was going over the stumps. Roy edged one and timed one well for a couple of boundaries off Southee before he failed to clear mid on off Shivam Mavi’s bowling. If not for Kane Williamson’s four fours in an over off Mavi, the Sunrisers wouldn’t even have reached 35/2 that they did. The spinners then kept it tight as SRH could manage only 51/3 in the first 10 overs.

SRH have no answers to spin choke

Shakib Al Hasan’s inclusion in the Knight Riders’ eleven paid dividends soon after he came on to bowl. Shakib was quick to run and collect the ball at short mid wicket and hit the stumps direct at the non-striker’s end to send Williamson back for 26 off 21. A few quiet overs later, Abhishek Sharma stepped down the track rather early to Shakib, which proved to be a big mistake. Shakib had figures of 1-10 from three overs, and despite being hit for a six off Priyam Garg – which was the first boundary for SRH after 37 deliveries – the Bangladesh allrounder gave away only 20 runs in his quota of four overs which were bowled at one go. Sunil Narine bowled four overs and did not pick up a wicket but did not concede a single boundary either.

Varun CV finished with 2-26 despite being struck three sixes off Abdul Samad, who then got out to Southee. Rashid Khan’s helicopter shot over cover for a four and off Mavi and Siddarth Kaul’s boundary off Southee in the same region off the final ball, were the only boundaries in the last three overs, which yielded just 16 runs. There was as many as 56 dots bowled by the Knight Riders in the innings, highlighting the Sunrisers’ inability to rotate the strike.

Brief scores: Sunrisers Hyderabad 115/8 in 20 overs (Kane Williamson 26, Abdul Samad 25; Varun Chakaravarthy 2-26, Tim Southee 2-26) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders 119/4 in 19.4 overs (Shubman Gill 57, Nitish Rana 25; Jason Holder 2-32) by 6 wickets.

Where next for the teams:

With 12 points from 13 games and a positive NRR, KKR are ahead in the race for the final playoffs spot. They face Rajasthan Royals in their final league-stage game on October 7 in Sharjah, with a victory almost certainly assuring them a passage through to the next stage. The loss, meanwhile, meant that the Sunrisers would finish at the bottom of the table. They take on Mumbai Indians in Abu Dhabi in their final game on October 8, hoping to play party pooper should it get to that.

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