Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Rana fights it out as KKR pick crucial win. Nitish Rana steered KKR in a topsy-turvy chase to help his team pocket two crucial points
Nitish Rana steered KKR in a topsy-turvy chase to help his team pocket two crucial points
Kolkata Knight Riders faced a stiff challenge from Delhi Capitals in defence of 127. But Nitish Rana's unbeaten 36 helped them get over the line after their bowlers had helped set up their fifth win of IPL 2021.
What happened to Delhi's in-form opening pair?
They were split, because of an injury to Prithvi Shaw. He had sat out of the second innings of the previous game as well due to an ankle injury. And that paired Steve Smith with Shikhar Dhawan.
The latter started aggressively, converting length balls into half volleys by jumping down the track consistently as KKR started with pace predominantly. But Lockie Ferguson cut short Dhawan's flair in his first over, the fifth of the innings. Dhawan's cut shot was on but he failed to pierce the gap and found the man at point. The lone person giving DC any momentum was thus sent back early.
Why was it difficult for DC to continue the momentum?
One of the reasons was the relaid Sharjah pitch that has plagued all the teams that have played on the surface. Slow and sluggish, it did not allow for much freedom to the strokemakers. While Dhawan was able to get some boundaries by running down the track, throwing the bowlers off their lengths and lines, there was no further evidence that it was any better for batting than the previous games.
What was the other reason?
KKR's top class spin attack capitalising on the conditions.
DC's best player of spin was done in by a superb off break from Sunil Narine that left him hanging his bat out limply in defence but missing completely and falling for just 1 against Narine. Varun Chakravarthy, at the other end, built up the pressure with dot balls as well, keeping Rishabh Pant quieter than usual. And with that came the wickets. Smith was bowled, trying to force the pace, for a 34-ball 39 by Ferguson. Narine had Lalit Yadav trapped plumb in front, leaving Pant under further pressure.
An unlikely hero with the ball…
KKR too had to offset some imbalance caused by the unavailability of Andre Russell. Venkatesh Iyer, who has already played a stellar role for them with the bat, gave further glimpses of his ability by bowling a tight spell of disciplined medium pace. Being the obvious choice to attack, he was able to prise out crucial wickets too, having Shimron Hetmyer and Axar Patel caught as DC laboured to 127.
How did Delhi still make a game out of it?
They came out with reworked plans, going through four of the powerplay overs with spin. This threw KKR's plans awry. The in-form Venkatesh Iyer was bowled by Lalit Yadav while Rahul Tripathi fell to change of pace from Avesh Khan. KKR still managed 44 in the powerplay but were beginning to stutter.
Ashwin vs Morgan
The duo had been involved in a heated exchange when Ashwin was dismissed and had to be separated by Dinesh Karthik. Ashwin had the last laugh in this battle though getting KKR's captain caught at slip off the second ball he bowled at him. That this came soon after a wicket-maiden from Kagiso Rabada tilted the balance yet again, with Avesh adding to KKR's misery having Karthik bowled off an inside edge even as Nitish Rana led a counter-attack playing a big part in a 20-run over from Lalit Yadav.
How did KKR get over the finish line?
With 30 needed off the final five overs, the game was still on a knife's edge. The 16th, bowled by Rabada virtually ended all of DC's hopes. An overstep led to a free hit against Sunil Narine, who managed only two off that hit. But with Rabada intent on digging the ball into the pitch with change of pace, it played into Narine's tactic of staying back. He used the pull shot to go 6,4,6 as 21 came off that over. And Rana's calm presence thereafter allowed them to get over the line with 10 balls to spare eventually, reiterating KKR's resurgence.
Brief Scores: Delhi Capitals 127/9 in 20 overs (Steven Smith 39, Rishabh Pant 39; Lockie Ferguson 2-10) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders 130/7 in 18.2 overs (Nitish Rana 36*; Avesh Khan 3-13) by 3 wickets
What next for the two teams?
With 16 points already in their kitty, Delhi have one leg in the final round already but they would want to seal it beyond doubt with a win when they take on Mumbai Indians at Sharjah on October 2. KKR will take on Punjab Kings on October 1, as they aim to move further strengthen their grip on a top-four spot.