It’s often hard to decipher a pattern in T20 cricket. Fortunes can fluctuate wildly from day to day. Kolkata Knight Riders seemed a team in turmoil after managing just 84 in their 20 overs earlier in the week. But on Saturday, they turned the tables on Delhi Capitals, one of the form teams in the competition, in convincing fashion. The 59-run win, after posting 194/6 from a precarious position, consolidated KKR’s hold on fourth spot while a second successive loss leaves work still to be done for Shreyas Iyer’s side.
Rana, Narine blitz
T20 cricket is fleeting in nature and it’s imperative for captains to seize the moment. They can ill afford to let the game drift. Iyer was guilty of doing just that. DC had a stranglehold on the game with Morgan’s men struggling at 44/3 after eight overs. With Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi and Dinesh Karthik back in the dugout, most people expected the KKR skipper to join Nitish Rana, who had been sent to open in this game.
But in came Sunil Narine, back in the side after missing a few games after being reported for a suspect bowling action. Both Rana and Narine have had problems with short bowling at pace. DC had in their ranks Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, the form pace pairing of the tournament. Both had bowled two overs each. An out-of-the-box move by KKR needed to be countered by an aggressive move by DC.
But who did Iyer confront them with for the next four overs?
Ravichandran Ashwin, Tushar Deshpande and Marcus Stoinis. Two medium pacers who can hardly get the ball through over hip height at any pace and a classy off-spinner who didn’t get any purchase from the pitch despite even resorting to wrist spin on occasions. Those four overs bled 59 runs as Rana (81 off 53 balls) and Narine (64 off 32 balls) realised there was nothing in the bowling to hurt them. The two launched into an all-out assault. As is often the case, fortune favoured the brave but it was enterprising batting and clean hitting from the two even though it owed much to the DC skipper not thinking on his feet. Nortje was brought back for the 13th over, but by the time the tone of the innings had been set.
There was also the questionable call of giving just one over to Axar Patel – that too inside the Powerplay. The left-arm spinner has been one of the best performers for DC this season, but Iyer was seemingly reluctant to use him against two left-handers. Fair to say that he didn’t have his best day as captain.
Cummins, Chakravarthy come to the party
For his hefty price tag, it had often been an underwhelming IPL for Pat Cummins so far. Coming into Saturday’s fixture, the Aussie quick had just three scalps to show for his efforts. But he landed two decisive blows at the start of the DC chase, that put them on the backfoot straightaway.
The first ball of the innings was on a length targeting the stumps and moved in a bit after pitching. Ajinkya Rahane, in the side as an opener replacing Prithvi Shaw, got stuck on the crease and was pinned in front.
Shikhar Dhawan, coming off two successive tons, was cleaned up by one bowled from around the stumps which seemed to hold its line after pitching to knock off-stump.
Those blows meant DC were always chasing the game and had to target the spinners. Narine didn’t get much spin with an action with no help from the leading arm, but was largely accurate. The DC batsmen couldn’t read Chakravarthy but had little option but to target him. The efforts were unsuccessful as five of them perished in that effort with the mystery spinner conceding only 20 runs in his four overs.
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