KKR Go Ruthless on DC

It’s the first time that KKR have started an IPL season with three consecutive wins, setting themselves as potential title contenders…reports Asian Lite News

Last week, one didn’t think of Sunrisers Hyderabad’s record highest score of 277 being upstaged in IPL 2024. But Kolkata Knight Riders had other plans by unleashing a six-hitting carnage in Visakhapatnam, though they settled for 272, the second-highest score in the history of the competition.

Sunil Narine (85), Angkrish Raghuvanshi (54), Andre Russell (41) and Rinku Singh (26) produced blistering fireworks to set the base for KKR’s 106-run win over Delhi Capitals at Visakhapatnam on Wednesday evening. Captain Rishabh Pant and Tristan Stubbs scored entertaining fifties for DC in an but-obvious uphill chase of 273.

Pant continued to build up on his positive return to competitive cricket by hitting five sixes and four boundaries in a 25-ball 55, while Stubbs hit eight boundaries in his 32-ball 54 to help the hosts’ save some blushes, before being 166 all out in 17.2 overs.

Effective bowling from KKR, starting from Mitchell Starc and Vaibhav Arora in power-play to Andre Russell, Varun Chakaravarthy and Sunil Narine, ensured that the visitors’ are now at top place on the points table. It’s also the first time that KKR have started an IPL season with three consecutive wins, setting themselves as potential title contenders.

On a placid pitch, KKR produced two hours of sensational carnage by hitting 22 fours and 18 sixes, with DC bowlers minus Kuldeep Yadav and Mukesh Kumar bearing the brunt of ruthless big-hitting. Narine was quick in creating room and lofting with ease to collect runs for fun in what is now his highest T20 score ever coming off just 39 balls.

Young Raghuvanshi, a member of India’s 2022 U19 World Cup winning campaign, impressed with his wrist work and the ability take on DC’s bowlers by mixing innovation with copybook strokeplay to get his maiden IPL fifty. Russell and Rinku brought out their usual fireworks at the end to add more intensity to KKR’s stunning batting onslaught.

Electing to bat first, KKR got going with Phil Salt taking two fours off Ishant Sharma in the second over. Narine got into the act by slashing Khaleel Ahmed through the off-side for a boundary, before Salt joined in with two driven fours to take 15 runs off the third over.

Boundaries continued to flow for Narine as he smacked two sixes off Ishant – a length ball was lofted over mid-off and a short delivery pulled over deep square leg. He then guided the pacer through backward point for a boundary, carved drive over long-off for six and ended the over with a thick edge going for four to bring up KKR’s fifty at the end of fourth over.

Anrich Nortje made an immediate impact when Salt was caught at mid-off in the fifth over, but young Raghuvanshi pulled and punched off him to get two quick boundaries. Narine, who was lucky to survive on 24 when Rishabh Pant failed to take a review on a faint edge, hit Rasikh Salam for three fours and a six to complete a 21-ball fifty as KKR ended power-play at 88/1, going past 85/0 they made against RCB last week.

Post power-play, there was no respite for DC as Narine and Raghuvanshi continued to take runs aplenty against the bowlers. Narine nonchalantly hammered Axar Patel for two sixes, while Raghuvanshi was impressive in using wrists and fast bat-swing to smash boundaries, with a reverse-hit off Rasikh going over third man for six being the standout.

Narine moved to 80s with a flat-batted six over long-off against Nortje, also bringing up his 100-run stand with Raghuvanshi. But Mitchell Marsh took him out with a bouncer in the 13th over, which Narine looked to pull, but a faint nick went behind to Pant.

Raghuvanshi got his maiden IPL fifty off just 25 balls, but fell two balls later when he tried to ramp off Nortje and was caught at deep third man. Russell feasted on hit-me deliveries from Nortje and Salam to hit two fours and as many sixes before the second time-out.

Post interval, Russell smashed two sixes and a four, while captain Shreyas Iyer hammered two maximums, before getting a top-edge on a short ball from Khaleel to mid-on. Things went from bad to worse for DC as over-rate penalty was imposed for last two overs, allowing them to have only four fielders outside the 30-yard circle.

Rinku had some fun by using his strong bottom hand to smash Nortje for three sixes and a four, before toe-ending a slog to mid-on. Ishant produced a magical moment by having Russell floored with a menacing 144kmph inswinging yorker and had Ramandeep Singh caught at extra cover to keep KKR five short of breaking SRH’s record of 277.

The move of bringing Arora as an Impact Player paid off as he removed Prithvi Shaw, who was caught by mid-on taking an excellent low catch. Starc picked his first wicket of the season as Marsh nailed the square-drive, but hit straight to cover-point.

Arora was great in extracting movement off the pitch and was rewarded with his second wicket when Abishek Porel top-edged a pull to short fine leg. Starc also had his second scalp when David Warner chopped on to his stumps, leaving DC at 33/4.

Pant began to find his groove by flicking Starc for six, before bringing out a nice pick-up shot over deep square leg and pulling in the same region off Russell. Stubbs began with back-to-back fours off Arora and welcomed Chakaravarthy with a brace of sixes over mid-wicket and mid-on to bring up the fifty of the fifth-wicket stand with Pant.

Though spinners put brakes on DC’s scoring, Pant went berserk with his shot selection, power and usage of pace by taking 28 runs off part-timer Venkatesh Iyer. He brought out the trademark hook and pick-up shots for sixes, while flicking, slicing, whipping and slashing for four boundaries, including bringing up his fifty in 23 balls.

But Chakravarthy got the better of Pant when he mistimed his slog-sweep and gave a catch to cover, followed by the spinner taking out Axar Patel on the very next ball. Stubbs hit two sixes and a four to get his fifty, before being dismissed by Chakaravarthy. From there, Narine, Arora and Russell took the remaining three wickets each to seal a massive victory for KKR.

Brief Scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 272/7 in 20 overs (Sunil Narine 85, Angkrish Raghuvanshi 54; Anrich Nortje 3-59, Ishant Sharma 2-43) beat Delhi Capitals 166 in 17.2 overs (Rishabh Pant 55, Tristan Stubbs 54, Vaibhav Arora 3-27, Varun Chakaravarthy 3-33) by 106 runs

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