Synopsis: The KKR’s spin show, led by Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla, made life difficult for KXIP. Shaun Marsh played a lone hand for KXIP but a Robin Uthappa show only added to the bowling woes of the hosts.
KKR’s spin show
Morne Morkel removed last match half-centurion Manan Vohra in the fourth over of the match but KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir sensed that the wicket was not really aiding the pacers and he opted to introduce left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan in the third over of the innings. Though Shakib didn’t pick up a wicket in the two overs he bowled during the Powerplay, the early sighting of spin was a sign of things to come. KKR gave away 41 runs and took one wicket in the Powerplay but two others spinners – Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla – were yet to bowl. Narine and Chawla would bowl the next six overs following the Powerplay and their disciplined line meant that the Kolkata side only gave away 31 runs in that particular period. Only Shaun Marsh could score at a strike rate of more than 100 against the two bowlers in these overs and only two – boundaries in Chawla’s third over – came in this 36-ball period. Gambhir did not feel the need to turn to medium pace as spinners, including Yusuf Pathan, bowled right from the seventh over to the 16th. Pathan, who had not bowled this IPl, also removed David Miller, and the KXIP’s run-rate dropped below six.
The failure of Glenn Maxwell to get going also hurt Kings XI Punjab. The Australian batsman was dismissed without scoring a four or a six and was caught by Piyush Chawla in the cover region off the bowling of Narine. Narine and Chawla bowled more than 40 percent of dot balls. Spinners bowled 12 overs for the Kolkata side and if it had not been Russell’s one over — the last of the innings — which went for 18 runs, KXIP would not have even crossed the 125-run mark.
Shaun Marsh missed KXIP’s first game because he was down with food poisoning but he made his time at the wicket count on Tuesday. Batting at No.3 Marsh would remain unbeaten on 56 off 41 balls. How vital this contribution was can be gauged from the fact that the next highest scorer in the KXIP innings was opener Murali Vijay who made 26. Marsh would score 38 runs on the off-side and his 21 singles along with five boundaries also meant that he scored at a strike rate of more than 100 against every Kolkata bowler. The fact that David Miller, Maxwell and Wriddhiman Saha have only scored 23 runs together in the last two matches meant that someone had to come up with a decent score and Marsh kept the innings afloat.
Having scored more than 600 runs in the 2014 edition, Robin Uthappa’s average fell to 30 last season in the IPL. But he seems to be in better form this season scoring two 30s prior to this game. The wicket-keeper batsman played a huge role in Kolkata getting off to a strong start and cruising past 50 runs in the first six overs. A boundary off leg-spinner Pardeep Sahu followed by a single would hand Uthappa the third fastest fifty of this IPL and his 24-ball half-century would dent any hopes the hosts had of defending the small total. The Karnataka batsman scored at a strike rate of 200 against Sandeep Sharma, Kyle Abott, Axar Patel and Mohit Sharma.
KXIP bowling woes
Medium pacer Sandeep Sharma failed to find the in-swing which he has utilised to remove some of the top-order batsmen in the opening overs and with Abott also failing to stop the flow of runs, KXIP didn’t really make any inroads. Eight boundaries were hit by KKR in the Powerplay overs. In all Kolkata would amass 65 runs in the first six overs – the highest in the competition so far. When the in-experienced leg-spinner Sahu removed Uthappa, Kolkata’s required run-rate was well below six runs. Even though Axar Patel picked up two wickets later in the innings it was a case of too little too late.