Umesh Yadav’s excellent run in IPL 2022 continued as he registered his best IPL figures of 4 for 23 to set up Kolkata Knight Riders’ six-wicket victory against Punjab Kings at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday (April 1). KKR did struggle a bit initially in the chase, having bowled out the Kings for 137. But Andre Russell’s unbeaten 70 off only 31 balls not only helped KKR to their second win, but also a comfortable one at that as they got over the line with 5.3 overs to spare to give their Net Run Rate a massive boost.
Did PBKS put up a fight with the ball?
They did. Ajinkya Rahane struck three boundaries but Kagiso Rabada got him to drive away from the body to edge to short third man where Odean Smith held a low catch. While Shreyas Iyer was dealing in regular boundaries to give the chase some momentum, Venkatesh Iyer slashed at a Smith delivery to cover-point where Harpreet Brar held on to the ball on the second attempt. Sam Billings got off the mark by clipping away a Smith delivery for a four off his first ball while Shreyas hit his fifth four as he put away a wide delivery from Rabada, with KKR reaching 51 for 2 at the end of the powerplay. But Rahul Chahar’s introduction in the seventh over, which happened to be a double-wicket maiden, caused much distress to KKR. The legspinner first bagged Shreyas’ wicket as he top-edged a slog sweep while Nitish Rana was out LBW and took a review with him.
Russell, Billings ensure smooth sailing
While PBKS persisted with Chahar to make further inroads and strengthen their position, the KKR batters were smart enough to identify their immediate threat and played him out. Chahar finished with terrific figures of 2 for 13, not conceding a single boundary. But Russell ensured quick flow of runs at the other end. Having struck two monstrous sixes off Brar in the 10th over, he struck three sixes and a four off Smith in the 12th over. In the same over, Billings, who was happy playing the strike-rotation role, hit his first six as the fifth wicket pair took 30 off the over. With a blazing straight four off Arshdeep Singh, with the ball just about evading the umpire, Russell got to a 26-ball fifty and ended the over with his sixth six. He added two more maximums to his tally, finishing it off in style with two big hits off Liam Livingstone in the 15th over.
How did Punjab fare with the bat in the powerplay?
Umesh might have become only the fourth to bag fifty wickets in the powerplay alone in the history of the IPL, which he did with the big scalp of Mayank Agarwal, trapping the PBKS skipper leg-before in the opening over. But the new-found freedom with which they have approached this season, PBKS were unperturbed.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa arrived in the second over and departed before the fourth was completed. But that little period was sufficient for the big-hitting Sri Lankan to provide the impetus to the innings. Getting off the mark with a lofted drive off Southee for a four, Rajapaksa opened the face of his bat for another four off Umesh while Shikhar Dhawan’s first boundary-hit was a straight six in the same over. Shivam Mavi, returning to the XI in place of Sheldon Jackson, got the inside edge of Rajapaksa’s bat, only for the ball to travel to the ropes. Rajapaksa then targeted the mid-on/midwicket region for a hat-trick of sixes before a mistimed shot resulted in his departure for 31 off only 9. Varun CV bowled a tight over while Tim Southee was struck for a six by Livingstone and a four by Dhawan before the left-handed opener was dismissed for a rather sedate 16 off 15. Nevertheless, PBKS had managed 62 in the powerplay.
Then why only 137?
You live by the sword, you die by it. England know it well, KKR know it too, and PBKS were made aware of it in this game. A couple of quiet overs after the powerplay from the spinners created enough pressure and Livingstone, in his bid to release it, decided to target Umesh in the ninth over. He smashed a boundary through extra cover but in his attempt to end the over with a big one, the England allrounder was caught in the deep. Raj Bawa and Shahrukh Khan fell cheaply, while Umesh ended his spell with a double-wicket maiden, sending Brar and Chahar back to the hut to reduce the Kings to 102 for 8. While Smith had an unusually quiet day, Rabada, playing in place of Sandeep Sharma, struck two fours and a six off Southee before hitting two more fours off Mavi. But Rabada fell to Russell thanks to an excellent catch from Southee while Arshdeep Singh was run out as the Kings were bowled out with 10 deliveries still remaining in their innings.
Brief scores: Punjab Kings 137 in 18.2 overs (Bhanuka Rajapaksa 31, Kagiso Rabada 25; Umesh Yadav 4-23) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders 141/4 in 14.3 overs (Andre Russell 70*, Shreyas Iyer 26; Rahul Chahar 2-13) by 6 wickets.
KKR have a four day break before their next game against Mumbai Indians at the MCA Stadium in Pune on April 6. Punjab Kings have only a day’s gap before they take on Chennai Super Kings at the Braboune Stadium on April 3.