The two teams led by the Tamil boys – Ravichandran Ashwin (KXIP) and Dinesh Karthik, clashed for a rain-ridden match yesterday at Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
Kings XI Punjab jumped to the top of the table with their victory over Kolkata Knight Riders and all the credit goes to Chris Gayle and Lokesh Rahul.
The game started off with a good wicket, bowling first being the preference for both teams but it was KXIP’s match from the very beginning, winning them the toss and placing KKR to bat.
KKR opened with two of their biggest threats – Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine. However, Narine almost immediately fell into Ashwin’s trap and was out by the second over, unable to handle Mujeeb Rahman’s bowling.
Robin Uthappa came in to replace him. KKR sent one threat after the other, sending all the ammunition they’ve got against KXIP which may have been a good decision on another day but not yesterday. Uthappa had a good knock laced with a hat-trick of fours in Mujeeb’s over, taking revenge for his teammate.
Lynn gained his grip in the eighth over and sold Barinder Sran’s over for an expensive price. However, just when KKR’s luck was starting to turn, Uthappa got himself out in the ninth over – bowled by captain Ashwin himself. It was indeed a good day for KXIP spinners.
The eleventh oversaw the two captains clash. Dinesh Karthik’s beautiful boundaries in Ashwin’s overawed the KXIP captain himself.
However, Lynn was definitely the star of KKR last night as he scored his 4th IPL half-century. His brilliant knock ended disappointingly with only 26 runs away from a century. The crucial wicket was taken by Andrew Tye. He was replaced by the biggest threat of them all – Russell, but it turned out to be an unexpected failure as he was out in 7 balls. However, he did manage to sneak in ten runs in the limited time he was on the field.
It was definitely an unsatisfying set of innings for KKR. The usual big scorers could not perform and Lynn missed his century. Dinesh Karthik also fell prey to the spin bowlers as he fell short of 7 runs for a half century.
KKR finished with 191/7 which was still a very good total considering, although they were on their way to a better score.
KXIP followed the same tactics and sent in their two confident batsmen, KL Rahul and Chris Gayle. Rahul started the game auspiciously with two fours. By the sixth over, Rahul and Gayle managed 73 runs with no loss – the third highest powerplay score at Eden in the IPL.
Russell faced an injury in the fourth over to the dismay of KKR and had to leave the game. The Jamaican was substituted by Rinku Singh.
Sunil Narine attempted to slow down their pace but the rains brought them back in better form and he had no control after that.
The rain interrupted the game in the ninth over, almost canceling the match all together but luckily, the skies cleared up and a revised score of 125 in 13 overs was given to KXIP. With 96 runs already down from 50 balls, Gayle and Rahul had an easy target of 29 runs from 28 balls.
Gayle restarted the game reaching his half-century, his third consecutive fifty this season (28-ball 55). Rahul sealed his half-century with a six (24-ball 50). He then hit two fours and was caught out by Tom Curran, it didn’t matter however as he walked out with his bat held high. After which Gayle hit the winning shot and KXIP defeated KKR without breaking a sweat by 9 wickets.
KL Rahul’s finesse and flow in the game overtook Gayle’s powerful but slightly messy performance, making him the man of the match.
KKR will now have time to recover and come back in form against Delhi Daredevils on April 27th while KXIP will have to gear up for their match on April 23rd against the Delhi boys as well.