Kolkata Knight Riders went into the match against Sunrisers Hyderabad at Vizag as clear favourites. They had won their earlier game convincingly, and were looking on top of their game, with skipper Gautam Gambhir having hit three fifties in four matches. However, rain, David Warner and the Sunrisers bowlers combined to take them to a highly unlikely victory. Batting first, Sunrisers managed to post an impressive 176 on the board, built around Warner’s smashing 91 from 55 balls. Following rain, Kolkata were given a revised target of 118 from 12 overs. They fell 16 run short.
The most intriguing story of the match was about how Sunriser's bowlers came back after, at one stage, it seemed like the target would be a cakewalk for Kolkata. With seven wickets in hand, Kolkata needed 38 from 19 balls when Andre Russell was dismissed for an enterprising 19 from 10 balls, off a back of the hand slower one from Ravi Bopara. That changed things completely as Kolkata crawled from 80 for 2 in the 9th over to 101 for 4 in the 12th. It was an amazing turnaround, reminiscent of the unpredictable nature of T20 cricket.
Without doubt, Praveen Kumar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were the bowling heroes for Sunrisers. In wet conditions, where it was extremely difficult to grip the ball, the duo from UP sent down some unbelievably accurate yorkers to completely stall Kolkata’s chase. Even when they were off target, the low full tosses were very hard to get away. They hardly ever erred from their line and length, in spite of the tough conditions, and the extreme pressure on them. Yusuf Pathan, from whom Gambhir has been expecting something special could not get the big hits, and though Manish Pandey finished on 33 from 24, he too failed to find the boundaries.
Earlier in the day, Warner led from the front again, smashing a sizzling 91 from 55 balls. The knock was a combination of power hitting and some cheeky improvisation. He hit 9 fours and 4 sixes, and was equally severe on both spinners and pacers alike. Warner dominated in an opening stand of 130, before falling to Morne Morkel in the 15th over. Shikhar Dhawan did not look in his groove, but hung around to give Sunrisers a solid base. After, Warner was dismissed, Dhawan should have taken over, but he managed 54 from 46 balls before being dismissed.
Kolkata fought back well after Warner’s wicket as the Sunrisers’ middle- order struggled. They still finished with an impressive 176 for 4 as Warner had done a splendid job. Morne Morkel starred for Kolkata with 2 for 31. In spite losing Gautam Gambhir early, Kolkata were very much in the hunt as Robin Uthappa raced to 34 from 21. But, Bopara started the slide for Kolkata, and the Kumars finished them off.
--By A Cricket Correspondent