After falling to defeat despite scoring 202 in Chennai Super Kings’ homecoming, Kolkata Knight Riders will banking on the comforts of home themselves when they host Sunrisers Hyderabad at Eden Gardens on Saturday (18:30).
Having swept aside Royal Challengers Bangalore at the same venue in their IPL opener, Dinesh Karthik and his men will have their task cut out against Kane Williamson’s Sunrisers who have won both their fixtures so far.
NO TIME FOR REST IN THE IPL
On Thursday evening, the Sunrisers beat Mumbai Indians in a nail-biter at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad. Less than 48 hours later, they will be playing at Eden Gardens in Kolkata as the matches keep coming thick and fast in the IPL.
This could put a question mark over the availability of their bowling spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar who had to miss Thursday’s clash against the Indians due to a sore back.
One the other hand, the Knight Riders’ last match was on Tuesday, providing them ample time to prepare for the clash.
SUNRISERS’ STRONG BOWLING
While the contrast between their two wins so far has been stark, there is one common theme to Sunrisers’ perfect start to the IPL. The bowling attack at Williamson’s disposal seems head and shoulders above those of the remaining sides.
Despite Bhuvneshwar’s absence on Friday, youngster Sandeep Sharma filled in seamlessly as the hosts restricted Mumbai to just 148 in their 20 overs.
Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan has simply been a class act with the ball while Siddharth Kaul has been a revelation in the pace department. Add in Bangladesh ace Shakib Al Hasan and Aussie express pacer Billy Stanlake into mix and you have one of the most complete bowling units you will ever find.
PLAYERS IN FOCUS
While Kolkata have some excellent spinners in their ranks in the form of Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla, they seem to be a bit light in the pace department. Vinay Kumar was taken for 35 runs in just 11 deliveries in the defeat to Chennai and his poor showing could open the doors for either of India’s U19 World Cup winning pacers Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi.
Also in focus will be their opener Chris Lynn who has not yet fired in the two matches so far. The Australian left-hander is one of the most dangerous batsmen in the T20 game and if he gets into his zone, it will be difficult for even Hyderabad’s famed bowling attack to rein him in.
For Hyderabad, Shikhar Dhawan is looking in ominous form after two sparkling knocks and the tone he sets at the top could very well define Sunrisers’ innings.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (C, wk), Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Mitchell Johnson, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Kamlesh Nagarkoti.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Shikhar Dhawan, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Kane Williamson (C), Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Deepak Hooda, Shakib Al Hasan, Rashid Khan, Siddharth Kaul, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Billy Stanlake.
Ravichandran Ashwin’s men ran the hosts close despite having a modest total of 155 to defend as the home side clinched victory with three balls to spare.
17-year-old Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman put in another impressive display as he finished with figures of 1/29.
Here, we take a closer look at the youngster’s spell.
RUNS CONCEDED: 29
With Kings XI defending a modest total, the Afghan teenager was brought on to bowl in the power-play and he delivered in confident style after conceding only three runs in his opening two overs while picking up the wicket of Virat Kohli. The wealth of subtle variations at his disposal made Mujeeb almost impossible to get away as batsmen found it hard to read his wrong-one. It was only in his final over that he was inflicted some punishment by AB de Villiers.
How good has young Mujeeb been for #KXIP in this game so far.
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) April 13, 2018
With his confidence already bolstered after a stupendous debut, the spinner’s first task on Friday was to put a brake on the scoring rate and he performed it admirably, showing no signs of nerves while bowling to some of the world’s best batsmen in Kohli and AB de Villiers. Not one to overdo his googly, Mujeeb used it sparingly but to lethal effect at the Chinnaswamy stadium.
Quite simply, nothing. Mujeeb’s mastery of the art of spin still remains a novelty in the IPL with the teenager coming in as a surprise package. That even the likes of Kohli were struggling to read his googly speaks volumes about the impact the Afghan youngster has had. His only gripe will be with his final over where he conceded two sixes and a boundary but you can’t really blame the young man given it was De Villliers doing the tonking. Went for 19 in that over to spoil his otherwise excellent figures.
QUITE FIRST OVER
Bowing the third over in the power play, Mujeeb conceded just two runs while having Quinton de Kock and Kohli as the batsmen to contend with. That tight over helped Punjab build the run-rate pressure on the home side.
If Mujeeb’s first over was good, his second was a showstopper. After bowling two dot-balls to Kohli, the youngster showed his class with a ripping googly that had the RCB skipper completely flummoxed. Pitching in on off stump, it spun in sharply to dislodge Kohli’s stumps with the batsman playing for the conventional spin. To get arguably the world’s best limited-overs batsman dismissed in that fashion as a 17-year-old is worthy of special praise.
— ICC (@ICC) April 13, 2018
VERDICT – 7/10
For the second match in a row, the Afghan spin prodigy has had everyone sit up and notice his outrageous talents. His team might have ended up on the losing side but Mujeeb’s meteoric rise continues. The final over takes some sheen off an impressive performance but he will have a big role to play in Kings XI’s campaign this season judging by the faith bestowed on him by skipper Ravichandran Ashwin.
Virat Kohli’s men did well to bowl out Kings XI for 155 runs before getting over the finish line in the chase during the final over. With this win, the Royal Challengers have started in perfect fashion on their home turf after a dismal last season where they won just one out of seven in Bangalore.
Here, we look at the key talking points from Royal Challenger’s first win.
YADAV’S ELECTRIC SPELL BREAKS KINGS XI’S BACK
Kings XI opener KL Rahul picked up exactly from where he left off in his record fastest fifty against the Delhi Daredevils as he smashed Chris Woakes for two sixes in the very first over. Soon the visitors raced away to 32/0 in three overs before Umesh Yadav turned up with an over for the ages.
Charging in at full pace, the Indian bowler dismissed Mayank Agarwal after the right-hander was caught behind while attempting a flashy cover drive. Aaron Finch, who had only recently joined up with the Kings XI squad from Australia, lasted only one ball after being struck on the pads by Yadav.
A hat-trick was prevented by Yuvraj Singh but the veteran had no answer to Yadav’s ripping in-swinging delivery that sent the middle-stump for a walk. Within the space of six balls, Kings XI’s top-order was back in the pavilion with RCB in total command.
A triple treat courtesy @y_umesh
Pace and accuracy – you asked for it and you got it. Umesh Yadav picked three in one over to derail #KXIP .
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) April 13, 2018
RAHUL FALLS SHORT OF CONSECUTIVE FIFTIES
Back on the ground of his former employers, Rahul’s splendid start on Friday might have had Royal Challengers wondering if they had missed a trick by not picking up the opening batsman for the 2018 edition.
After his two sweetly timed sixes off Woakes in the first over, Rahul continued to play his free-flowing strokes despite Yadav wreaking havoc at the other end. He would smash two more sixes as he quickly raced away to 47 off just 29 deliveries. Looking good for another half-century after his 14-ball blitzkrieg against the Delhi Daredevils, Rahul’s innings was cut short by young Washington Sundar.
Attempting a slog sweep against the off-spinner, Rahul could only manage a top-edge which was gobbled up easily by Sarfaraz Khan at short third-man.
KL Rahul Last 22 balls in this IPL:
0 2 0 6 4 4 6 4 1 4 6 6 4 4 4 0 W 0 0 6 6 0 4
— Broken Cricket (@BrokenCricket) April 13, 2018
DE VILLIERS SHOWS HIS CLASS TO WIN IT FOR THE HOSTS
Despite having a modest total to chase on what looked like a good track, the hosts had lost their way by the half-way mark of their innings. At 87/4, the visitors would have sniffed a chance of a sneaky victory but those hopes were quelled as soon as AB de Villiers found his range.
Starting circumspectly, the South African ace saved his best for the death overs with the asking-rate climbing to above 10 per over as he smashed Mujeeb ur Rahman for consecutive sixes in the 17th over.
The right-handed batsman swatted Mohit Sharma for another massive six in the next over to bring up a fine half-century off just 36 balls. By the time he departed in the penultimate over for 57, De Villiers had already ensured victory for the Royal Challengers. It was an innings of pure class from the stalwart and it came when they needed it the most.