Kolkata Knight Riders are on a roll while Dhoni`s Rising Pune SuperGiants continue to go down and under with 4 consecutive defeats. Both sides were missing a key batsmen each due to injuries. Manish Pandey for KKR and Kevin Pieterson for RPS. KKR still looked a balanced side. Without taking into account the pitch,
Gambhir elected to bowl first after winning the toss. He just wanted to chase. Dhoni would have thought the same but then the pitch started to play.
RPS openers Ajinkya Rahane and Faf Du Plessis started cautiously. It took just 3 overs for Gambhir to understand that the pitch was slow and turning, as he introduced spinner Shakib Al Hasan in the 4th over and reaped immediate reward with the wicket of DuPlessis. Next man in, Steven Smith joined Rahane and started building the innings with some anxious moments. They scored together 56 runs for the 2nd wicket in 8.2 over.
The batsmen could not get going as it became really difficult to time the ball on a slow wicket.
It was proving to be a difficult toss for Gambhir as now it was evident that the wicket will worsen in the 2nd innings making it difficult to chase. KKR bowlers were bowling well though, keeping the runs in check till the 15th over. But the match changed in the last 5 overs as the RPS middle order batsmen took risk and attacked to score 60 runs off the last 5 overs. Albie Morkel made 16 runs from 9 balls and Dhoni smashed 23 off 12 to take their side to strong finish. 160 in 20 overs was a very good score on this wicket. It was going to be extremely difficult for KKR to chase this one down.
KKR has been chasing well, thanks largely to Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa’s opening partnership. They have shown good grit and determination so far.
But today was a real challenge for them. Uthappa fell first ball and the crowd was right behind the home team. Gambhir scored 11 off his first 4 balls and then perished on the 5th. KKR were 31 for 2 in the 3rd over. With both the openers gone, the untested middle order had a real task on their hands and Surya responded. He came in and played positively from the first ball. KKR knew that the scoring would be tough as the ball gets old so they went after the new ball to maximize the powerplays. They were going at about 10 runs an over in the powerplays. 3rd wicket fell in the 7th over in the form of Shakib Al Hasan. Surya was well set at one end and the new man Yousuf Pathan played well as well. They combined for a partnership of 51 to clam the nerves of the KKR fans. But the wickets of Pathan and Surya Yadav in quick time turned the match again.
KKR kept hitting runs and losing wickets at quick intervals. Andre Rusell hit a couple of sixes to raise hopes but fell soon after.
KKR needed 7 runs in the last over with 3 wickets in hand. Piyush Chawla took a couple off the first ball to ease KKR nerves but fell to the heroic heave on the 2nd balls. RPS was in with a chance again. 5 needed off 4 with 2 wickets in hand. Dhoni would have planned something to choke the KKR batsmen. He had seen many such situations before.
Number 10 Umesh Yadav could care less for anything going around as he hoisted his first ball into the stands to seal the match. Thisara Perera was the suffering bowler.
RPS need some help from within. A super innings or a magical spell to pull them out of this losing streak. KKR can take all positives from the game. The untested middle order was tested and they came through well. KKR looks an even stronger team now on.