Pune (Maharashtra): A 63-run stand between Sam Billings (34) and Andre Russell powered Kolkata Knight Riders to a solid 177/6 in their 20 overs here at MCA Stadium in Pune on Saturday. It was a solid day for KKR with the bat, as everyone chipped in useful contributions that took the side to a solid score. Umran Malik was the pick of the bowlers for SRH, impressing once again with three scalps in his kitty.
Batting first, Kolkata Knight Riders got off a shaky start, as opener Venkatesh Iyer was bowled by pacer Marco Jansen for only 7 in the second over of the match. This brought batter Nitish Rana to the crease. Things were not really good for KKR till the fourth over, as the duo of Jansen and Bhubaneshwar Kumar kept the run flow tight.
The other opener Ajinkya Rahane and compatriot Rana started their assault on SRH bowlers in the fifth over that catapulted them to a great score by the end of the powerplay. The fifth and sixth overs bowled by pacer T Natarajan and Jansen were smashed for 18 and 17 runs respectively, powering Knight Riders to a solid 55/1 at the end of the powerplay, with Rana (24*) and Rahane (20*) standing tall.
The pair continued their strong show before the pace sensation Umran Malik dismissed Rana for 26 off 16 with an assist from Shashank Singh’s safe hands, ending a 48-run stand between the duo. This brought captain Shreyas Iyer to the field, who welcomed Malik with a four over the backward point. Malik ended the over on a high, getting Rahane for 28 off 24 with Shashank Singh taking another catch.
This brought the Englishman Sam Billings to the crease. In the 10th over, Iyer was Malik’s next victim as he was dismissed after being caught by Rahul Tripathi at deep midwicket for 15 off 9. By the end of 10 overs, KKR had lost the momentum initially gathered via Rana-Rahane stand as they stood at 83/4 with Sam Billings (3*), who was joined by Rinku Singh.
Singh was eventually dismissed for Natarajan in the 12th over, scoring only 5. With this, half of KKR was back in the pavilion at a score of 94. Andre Russell came down the crease, with a responsibility to stitch a match-saving stand and muscle his way through the SRH bowling attack. He and Billings resumed the rebuilding efforts for KKR with some strike rotation and some heavy hits occasionally.
At the end of 15 overs, KKR stood at 119/5, with Billings (15*) and Russell (16*). Billings hit Malik for two consecutive fours in the 16th over, which ended on an expensive note for the pacer, giving away 10 runs, ending his spell with three wickets and 33 runs conceded. The next over by Kumar went for 13 runs. Natrajan took the ball in the 18th over with a responsibility to arrest the run flow in death overs.
The duo brought their 50-run stand in 36 balls. The very next ball was smashed by Billings for a six to help Knight Rider sail over the 150-run mark. Bhuvaneshwar was back bowling the 19th over and he got the breakthrough for SRH by dismissing Billings for 34 off 29, ending the 63-run stand between the duo. Finally, KKR finished at 177/6 in their 20 overs, thanks to Russell’s explosive onslaught on Washington Sundar, hitting him for three sixes.
Russell finished at 49*, while Sunil Narine at 1*. Umran Malik was the pick of the bowlers for SRH, finishing with 3/33 in four overs. Kumar, Jansen and Natarajan got one wicket each. Brief Scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 177/6 (Andre Russell 49*, Sam Billings 34, Umran Malik 3/33) against Sunrisers Hyderabad.