Young Shubman Gill hit a fine half-century after an impressive display by the bowlers to guide Kolkata Knight Riders to a six-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad and keep their IPL play-offs hopes alive in Dubai on Sunday. KKR first produced a clinical bowling effort to restrict SRH to a below-par 115 for eight and then rode on Gill’s 57 off 51 balls to reach home comfortably. The win consolidated KKR’s position at the fourth place in the standings with 12 points from 13 games. With three play-off berths already taken by Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore, the race is on for the fourth and final spot between KKR, Rajasthan Royals and defending champions Mumbai Indians while Punjab Kings are all but out of the tournament.
Defending a small total, SRH bowlers were right on their money from the word go as KKR batsmen struggled to force the pace of the innings.
The opening duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jason Holder were accurate upfront, while debutant Umran Malik’s raw pace troubled Gill and Nitish Rana (25) in the middle overs.
Rashid Khan too created enough problems for the KKR batsmen, while Siddharth Kaul was incisive with his line and length, making it difficult for opposition batsmen to open their arms.
Venkatesh Iyer (8) and Rahul Tripathi (7) fell to Holder and Rashid in quick succession after which Gill and Rana found it difficult to rotate the strike as the asking rate climbed up with KKR reaching 44 for 2 at the halfway mark.
With Rana struggling to get going, Gill took the onus on himself to break the shackles and he did it by smacking Holder for two boundaries in the 12th over to bring down the equation to 53 off 42 balls.
Gill continued his attacking instinct and struck Malik for back-to-back boundaries in the next over to ease out the chase. Gill and Rana looked at ease to finish off the chase before the former flicked one straight to Holder at long-on off Kaul’s bowling.
The match witnessed some tense moment when Rana was dismissed in the 18th over but Dinesh Karthik (18 not out) and Eoin Morgan (2 not out) closed down the chase with two balls to spare.
Earlier, SRH skipper Kane Williamson’s decision to bat first backfired as they lost wickets at regular intervals, failing to counter KKR’s incisive bowling, especially of Tim Southee and the spin duo of Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine.
Already out of contention for a play-offs berth, SRH witnessed a horrible start to their innings, losing Wriddhiman Saha for a duck in the second ball, LBW to Southee.
Jason Roy (10) was the next to follow, caught by Southee off Shivam Mavi in the fourth over. Skipper Williamson (26 off 21) tried to resurrect the innings and was looking good before he was run out by Shakib Al Hasan with SRH scoreboard reading 38 for three in 6.5 overs.
Once Williamson departed, it was a struggle for SRH batsmen even though Priyam Garg (21) and Abdul Samad (25) tried to forge a partnership.
Garg was holed out at deep midwicket to Rahul Tripathi off Chakravarthy, while Jason Holder (2) fell to the same bowler in his next over.
Samad tried his best to pick up the tempo in the last five overs, hitting three lusty sixes but eventually perished in search of quick runs, caught by Shubman Gill of Southee’s bowling.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (7 not out) and Siddharth Kaul (7 not out) remained unbeaten in a 12-run ninth-wicket partnership.
The spin duo of Shakib (1/20) and Narine were brilliant in the middle overs as SRH batsmen found the going tough against them.
While Narine returned wicketless, he was economical, finishing with impressive figures of 4-0-12-0. Southee (2/26), Mavi (2/29) and Chakravarthy (2/26) shared six wickets among them.
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