Andre Russell’s all-round efforts with the bat (49*) and 3-22 with the ball orchestrated Kolkata Knight Riders’ thumping 54-run over Sunrisers Hyderabad at Pune on Saturday (May 14).
The win helped the Knight Riders rise to the sixth position in the points table and they now need to win their last game against Lucknow Super Giants on Wednesday (May 18) to stay in the hunt for a play-off spot.
Having won the toss and opting to bat first on a greenish pitch, Ajinkya Rahane and Nitish Rana ensured a strong power play for the Knight Riders, striking as many as five sixes between them to post 55 for 1 but Umran Malik (3-33) broke the 48-run partnership between the duo by bouncing out Rana and Rahane in the space of three deliveries in the eighth over. He later returned to bag the wicket of Iyer, flicking a full ball to deep midwicket and T. Natarajan had Rinku Singh plumb in front to peg Kolkata back at 92 for 5 in the twelfth over.
But Russell hung in there till the end hitting three fours and four sixes and brought up his 2000th IPL run in the process. It was his three sixes off off-spinner Washington Sundar in the last over that propelled the Knight Riders to a competitive, above-par total of 177-8. He overcame a slow start, having scored 17 off his first 14 balls, to score 32 off his last 17 to finish unbeaten on 49. He found an able ally in Sam Billings, returning to the side, who made 34 and the duo put up a 63-run partnership for the sixth wicket, third-highest stand for the wicket at Pune in the IPL.
"We were going over by over while batting,” skipper Shreyas Iyer, playing his 100th IPL game, said at the post-match presentation. “Plan was to give Russell as much strike as possible and we were praying that he plays the last over because Washington had an over left. It worked out pretty well.”
In response, Abhishek Sharma top-scored for SRH but found little support around him apart from Aiden Markram’s 25-ball 32 as they could only muster 123 for 8. Russell made the first breakthrough bowling Kane Williamson in the sixth over and Rahul Tripathi soon followed when Tim Southee held on to a stunning return catch.
The back of a length worked as man-of-the-match Russell and Southee shared five wickets between them as spinners Sunil Narine (1-34), who pulled things back after being hit for 25 runs off his first two overs, in conjunction with Varun Chakaravarthy (1-25) kept the run flow in check to ensure the target proved beyond the Sunrisers Hyderabad.