Synopsis: KKR got off to a good start, but SRH packed a spin punch in the middle before the visitors ran into a red-hot Umesh Yadav.
A good start
Dale Steyn flicked his wrist at the point of release. The ball pitched on good length and cut Gautam Gambhir in half. Umpire Maraias Erasmus negated a very confident caught behind shout, but it was a jaffa and the Kolkata Knight Riders’ captain was beaten all ends up. For the first six overs, however, it was Sunrisers Hyderabad’s only moment of hope after David Warner won the toss on a two-paced Eden Gardens pitch and decided to bowl.
The atmosphere at Eden was unusually subdued for this game. Not often do you get to see a half-empty stadium in this part of the world. Kolkata openers, Robin Uthappa and Gambhir, did their best to raise the tempo. The former beautifully drove Steyn, in for Trent Boult, to the mid-off boundary and took back-to-back fours off Praveen Kumar behind square. Gambhir clipped Steyn to the fine leg fence and followed it up with a gorgeous drive through the covers. Arrival of Moises Henriques, also, couldn’t stem the run flow and the hosts finished the power-play overs with 55 for no loss. They were threatening to run away with the game.
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Karn Sharma had gone through a difficult summer Down Under — an unimpressive Test debut followed by the World Cup snub. He was struggling to make an impact in the IPL also, with only four wickets from eight matches before this game. Here, he found his rhythm. A tossed up delivery accounted for Gambhir, who mistimed a lofted drive and presented a simple catch to Eoin Morgan at deep mid-wicket.
Uthappa was done in with a flatter one as he made room, aiming the vacant area between long-off and sweeper cover. It was an uppish swat but the ball was travelling like a rocket. Warner at short cover flung himself to his right and grabbed it with both hands. It was an absolute blinder. After three overs, Sharma had figures of 2/14.
Left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma, Ashish Reddy’s replacement, was equally effective at the other end. He cramped the batters for room and forced in-form Andre Russell to a miscue. Morgan comfortably held the catch at long-on. A big wicket that brought the match back on an even keel. And when Manish Pandey was run out two overs later, going for a non-existent single on a misfield by Bipul, Hyderabad had wrested the initiative. Between seven and 14 overs, Kolkata could manage 57 runs for the loss of four wickets. A total in excess of 180 was out of reach. Yusuf Pathan played a cameo but wickets were falling at the other end and Kolkata stopped at 167/7.
Red hot Umesh Yadav
Warner & Co, however, ran into a red-hot Umesh Yadav. He can become quite a handful when he gets his line right. The beginning was wayward, a big wide outside the off stump. Then a short delivery gave the Hyderabad captain his first boundary. Umesh’s response was something special; a fast delivery that moved off the seam to rattle the off stump. It was half the battle won, for Hyderabad batting this season has been all Warner. Naman Ojha was beaten for pace in the final ball of that over as the off stump went for a walk. At 6/2 after the first over, Hyderabad were already on the mat.
They still had Shikhar Dhawan though. It was a big opportunity for him to make his presence felt. The left-hander looked to be in good nick as he hit Umesh for a couple of fours. One of those took Russell almost out of the game. The Kolkata all-rounder jarred his left shoulder, trying to stop the boundary, and left the field grimacing. But he came back within 20 minutes, much to his teammates’ relief.
Dhawan, on the other hand, flattered to deceive. He got out top-edging a Brad Hogg half-tracker to Pandey at square leg. From that point onwards it was all Kolkata.
Henriques and Morgan tried to steady the ship with a 36-run partnership for the fourth wicket. But Morgan fell prey to a horrible mix-up and Hyderabad had very little fight left. It was a hat-trick of losses for the Orange army at Eden. This one helped Kolkata move up the ladder to third place.
Brief Scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 167 for 7 in 20 overs (Manish Pandey 33, G Gambhir 31, Karan Sharma 2/29, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2/42) defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad 132 for 9 in 20 overs (Moises Henriques 42, Brad Hogg 2/17, Umesh Yadav 2/34)
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