Kolkata Knight Riders got off the mark with a seven-wicket victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. From Pat Cummins’ early burst to Shubman Gill’s unbeaten knock, the game had plenty of moments for KKR.
Here’s a wrap.
Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Varun CV in the KKR XI
Finally, Kamlesh Nagarkoti. KKR got him in IPL 2018, a year in which he played a crucial part in India Under-19’s victory in the U-19 World Cup in New Zealand. Nagarkoti could bowl fast - really fast, field superbly and even contribute runs in the lower order. He could have been the perfect T20 package, but unfortunately, injuries threatened to ruin his career. For more than two years, Nagarkoti hardly played professional cricket as injury after injury kept him waiting. He finally got his chance on Saturday and did decently well, bowling 2 overs for 17 runs. The nerves would have settled and he should feel more relaxed in the upcoming games.
Meanwhile, there’s another interesting story in the KKR side, that of Varun. The ‘mystery’ spinner trialed with the KKR team in IPL 2018, where he learned tricks under Sunil Narine. Come IPL 2019, where he was bought for a huge price by KXIP, it was the same Narine who tonked him around on debut game as R Ashwin tossed the ball to the youngster within the Power Play. He made a decent comeback with the wicket of Nitish Rana to end with 1 for 35 from 3 overs, but didn’t play another game due to form and injury.
Varun has been laying low for the entire year since the IPL, again due to injuries. KKR, though, trusted him enough to buy him for Rs. 4 crore. And he showed why in his first match for the franchise, picking up 1 for 25. That 1 wicket was that of David Warner’s, which killed SRH’s momentum in the middle overs.
Pat Cummins’ early burst
Cummins had a forgettable first game against Mumbai Indians, where he conceded 49 from 3 overs. As Dinesh Karthik said after that game, Cummins had just ended his quarantine and didn’t look in rhythm, and Rohit Sharma made full use.
Cummins showed he’s a champion in the second game. With SRH’s openers being the key wickets, Karthik handed over the new ball and he did the damage picking Jonny Bairstow early. His spell of 3-0-11-1, in which he kept hitting hard lengths, ensured SRH wouldn’t get a good start. Cummins would end the night with figures of 1 for 19.
Wriddhiman Saha struggle
SRH’s biggest problem in the last two years has been their middle order. They included the experienced Saha in the XI to see if that changes, but it has clearly not. Saha struggled to find rhythm and made 30 off 31 balls with one four and a six. It was not like he wasn’t trying - he tried but it just wasn’t his day. At one stage, Saha was on 16 off 23 before he got his only six. Included in place of Vijay Shankar who had a bad back, Saha had a day he’d like to forget. In the end, SRH settled for a below par score of 142 for 4 in 20 overs, even as Manish Pandey made 51 off 38.
The Shubman Gill show
Gill’s 70* off 62 was the definition of ‘control’. Not once did he get beaten, not once did he get an edge. Gill had struggled in the first game against MI against Trent Boult. Here, he’d pace his knock perfectly. Gill has spoken about the need to be the anchor for his team - filled with big hitters - and he did his role to perfection.
At the other end, Sunil Narine fell cheaply before Nitish Rana provided some momentum with a cameo. Gill too kept going - his shot off Khaleel Ahmed over long on after stepping down was a treat. He then settled down in the partnership with Eoin Morgan, calmly rotating the strike and getting the job done.
The most impressive aspect of his game was the comfort he displayed against Rashid Khan. He picked the googlies to perfection and middled every ball, showing complete ease.