A classy half-century from Shubman Gill (70 not out, 62b, 5×4, 2×6) guided Kolkata Knight Riders to its first victory of the 2020 IPL season, defeating Sunrisers Hyderabad by seven wickets at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
Knight Riders’ 143-run chase got off to a rocky start when Sunil Narine fell for a duck off the second ball of left-armer Khaleel Ahmed’s first over. Gill and Nitish Rana added a quick 37 for the second wicket. The latter was the more aggressive of the two, hitting Khaleel for a hat-trick of fours in the fourth over. T Natarajan, however, had Rana caught behind before he could inflict further damage. When Rashid Khan (one for 25) trapped captain Dinesh Karthik for a duck, the Knight Riders was in a spot of bother.
But Gill and Eoin Morgan (42 not out, 29b, 3×4, 2×6) allayed fears of a meltdown by adding 92 runs for the fourth wicket and taking Kolkata past the finish line with two overs to spare.
As it happened:
IPL 2020: Shubman Gill stars, KKR beats SRH by 7 wickets
Earlier, Knight Riders kept Sunrisers under check with some tight bowling on a pitch that gradually slowed down. It took a half-century from Manish Pandey (51, 38b, 3×4, 2×6) to guide the side to 142 for four.
Knight Riders’ Rs 15 crore-recruit Pat Cummins, who endured a rough evening with the ball against Mumbai Indians, made amends against Sunrisers, keeping the openers on the backfoot from the start. He was rewarded for his attacking line and length when he cleaned up Jonny Bairstow with an off-cutter in the fourth over after the Englishman had successfully reviewed a caught-behind appeal off the previous delivery. The Aussie pacer bowled three of his four overs in the PowerPlay, conceding just 11 in those.
David Warner, meanwhile, played well within himself, and showed flashes of aggression by clubbing two fours and a six to help Sunrisers to 40 for one at the end of six overs. Pandey joined Warner after Bairstow’s dismissal, and the pair took a few overs to settle down, only coming up with the occasional boundary.
Varun gets Warner
But just when they looked to switch gears, leg-spinner Varun Chakravarthy dismissed the dangerous Warner (36, 30b, 2×4, 1×6) after the first strategic time-out. The left-hander’s attempt to work the ball towards the leg-side caught the top of the bat and the ball ballooned back to the bowler, who completed a simple return catch.
Pandey and Wriddhiman Saha then carried out the repair work with a 62-run third-wicket partnership, but struggled to break the shackles in the face of some tight bowling from Varun and Sunil Narine.
Saha brought up the fifty stand with a six over deep mid-wicket off the last ball of Varun’s spell. The Tamil Nadu spinner finished with one for 25. Shortly after, Andre Russell got rid of Pandey, putting an end to any hopes Sunrisers had of a late flourish.