The talented Shubman Gill drove, pulled and cut with authority in an unbeaten 62-ball 70 as Kolkata Knight Riders eased past the Sunrsiers Hyderabad by seven wickets in the IPL on Saturday.
Gill and Eoin Morgan (42 not out in 29 balls) complemented a disciplined bowling effort, helping the Knight Riders open their account with a convincing win.
The 21-year-old opener anchored the chase perfectly as Morgan counterattacked to seal the issue in KKR’s favour with two overs to spare, after their opening game debacle. Opting to bat, Sunrisers Hyderabad never got going after Pat Cummins (1/19) and rookie spinner Varun Chakravarthy (1/25) removed the opening pair of Jonny Bairstow and David Warner respectively, and were restricted to a below-par 142/4.
After an explosive start by KKR, the bowling-heavy SRH did make some inroads with Khalil Ahmed and T Natarajan dismissing Sunil Narine (0) and Nitish Rana (26 off 13). Rashid Khan got into the act straightway, trapping KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik for a duck.
But a calm and composed Gill was in complete control of his innings and paced it brilliantly on way to his fifth IPL fifty. Reigning World Cup-winning skipper Morgan played the perfect supporting role before joining the party by smacking Bhuvneshwar Kumar for a huge six in the 15th over to tilt the match in favour of KKR.
Earlier, KKR looked more intent and aggressive with their approach, having brought in Narine and Cummins up front with the new ball. Having drawn flak for bowling short against Mumbai Indians, the IPL’s most-expensive overseas buy Cummins smartly altered his length and bowled Jonny Bairstow with an absolute ripper to give KKR the first breakthrough.
In his second-coming, architect-turned-spinner Chakravarthy dismissed a well-set Warner (36 off 30) in a soft manner for his maiden IPL wicket, giving KKR the big breakthrough. The Australian left-hander, who got out cheaply against Royal Challengers Bangalore, looked to make a mark with some clean hits, but a lapse in concentration did him in and he spooned a simple catch to Chakravarthy.
The two wickets meant that SRH could not step up the momentum and at the halfway mark, at 61 for two, the run-rate was just above six. Manish Pandey returned to form at No. 3 with a 38-ball 51 and along with Wriddhiman Saha (30 off 31 balls), tried to repair the damage but the duo were dismissed at the death and SRH lacked the finishing touch to settle for a seemingly below-par total.
In hindsight, sending Saha ahead of Mohammad Nabi looked like a tactical blunder as the Indian wicketkeeper wasted a lot of deliveries in making 30 off 31.
(With agency inputs)