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KKR bank on Tripathi’s magical 81 to seal clinical win

A gallant 51-ball 81 from Rahul Tripathi and some crisp bowling performances in the middle and death overs sealed a sensational 10-run win for Kolkata Knight Riders against Chennai Super Kings in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. With this win, KKR now move up to the 3rd spot in the points table of Dream XI IPL 2020.

Batting first, KKR heavily banked on Tripathi’s exploits to post a modest 167-run total on the board. The youngster was promoted to open the innings with Shubman Gill (11) and he stood tall when all other KKR batters struggled to cope with the conditions. The move to send Tripathi up, which came on the back of his sensational 16-ball 36 against Delhi Capitals, certainly proved to be a master stroke from the KKR management.

We thought we will ease Sunny's (Narine) pressure a little bit and send Rahul up. He has always been someone who has opened a lot so it’s good to see him bat up the order and get the job done for us,” skipper Dinesh Karthik said.

KKR bowling coach Kyle Mills was mighty impressed with the young lad as well. “He was exceptional. He has literally worked the house down,” Mills reflected on Tripathi’s knock in the post-match conference.

At one point, KKR’s 167 looked too small a total against Chennai, who started off brilliantly with some effortless batting from Shane Watson (50), Faf du Plessis (17) and Ambati Rayudu (30). However, some persistent efforts from our bowlers paid off eventually. From 90/1 after 10 overs to getting restricted for 157/5 in 20 overs shows how the KKR bowlers dominated CSK’s experienced batting line-up in the later half.

While the spinning duo of Narine (1-31) and Varun Chakravarthy (1-28) checked the run flow and picked up the crucial wickets of Watson and MS Dhoni (11) respectively, Andre Russell removed the dangerous Sam Curran (17) to pull KKR back in the match in the 18th over. Kamlesh Nagarkoti also pitched in with some economic bowling (1-21) and picked up the important wicket of Rayudu.

Dre Russ, who hasn’t found his form with the bat yet, seemed happy to have contributed with the ball. “I missed with the bat today but made up with ball. That’s the beauty of being an allrounder. The 18th over was a pressure over for us. I am happy that I contributed,” said Russell. The wicket of Curran came at a time when a couple of maximums could have changed the course of the match. Russell not only bagged the key wicket, but also ensured he didn’t give away more than 3 runs off that over.

Talking about his lack of form with the bat, the big hitter added, “I’m still confident. These things happen in cricket. We go through a little rough patch. When the runs will come, that’s where everything is going to count. I’m still working to find my way.

KKR may have won the game and surely have plenty of positives to take away from it, but going ahead in the tournament, it will become imperative for our middle order to click. There was a massive rejig in the batting order on Wednesday but it didn’t yield much success. The fact that no one, barring Tripathi, managed to even cross 20 runs on Wednesday, will certainly force head coach Brendon McCullum and his team to dig deeper and find the right combination before it’s too late.

Kolkata will face Kings XI Punjab next on October 10th in Abu Dhabi.