For Kolkata Knight Riders captain Dinesh Karthik, it turned out to be an incredible Saturday. At the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the seasoned campaigner not only returned to form – with a fine knock of 58 off 29 balls – but also managed to clinch a thriller against Kings XI Punjab.
And the skipper was happy to have let his willow do the talking. “The way the group supported me through the initial phase, it was fabulous. It was time that I contributed as a batsman,” Karthik said.
Opting to bat first, KKR struggled till the 11th over, putting up only 63-3. However, Karthik’s counter-attacking knock and opener Shubman Gill’s 57 guided the team to a competitive total. And it was the 82-run stand between him and Gill that set the tone for the Knight Riders.
“I am happy with the way I batted and most importantly, at the pace with which I batted. That helped the team reach a par score. I am happy with the way things are unfolding right now,” he added.
Andre Russell was injured while trying to stop a boundary. Even though he walked onto the field later, he could not bowl. Did the team miss him? “100 per cent. He is a special bowler for us in the death and he is an absolute team man. Even though he wanted to field, he genuinely could not move around very fast. He thought it’s better to take a break — we have a game in two days — and be ready for that,” the Kolkata captain said.
Karthik also agreed that the Abu Dhabi wicket was not easy to bat on. “Last time we were here, there was a lot more grass. The wicket was slightly different to bat on. This time it was slightly slower and was not easy to bat on. Lot of batsmen could not get boundaries that easily. Credit to the bowling team. I have always felt that the 160s and the 170s are a great total and best matches come out from those kind of games,” he added.
At a time when a victory looked evident for Kings XI – with captain K. L. Rahul in the middle – KKR brought in Prasidh Krishna and Sunil Narine at the death to keep the pressure mounting on Rahul and youngster Prabhsimran Singh.
“Try and put KL on singles and get the other batsman on strike and put pressure on him. That was the plan. Prasidh did that beautifully. Even Sunny (Narine) showed his experience. It is not easy for a spinner to bowl the death overs, but the way he bowled was really good,” he said.
“He was sure what to do and in the last ball, we decided to go for a wide yorker and he executed it almost well. But Glenn Maxwell did a great job. It was a close game, a great game.”