Hyderabad: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) became the third team into the Playoffs of VIVO IPL 2018.
Chasing 173 against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), KKR romped home thanks to Sunil Narine’s initial blitz and professional batting efforts from Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa and skipper Dinesh Karthik.
SRH will still remain in the top two, but can lose the top spot if Chennai Super Kings (CSK) win their last game.
On the other hand, if CSK are thrashed, KKR may play Qualifier 1. Mumbai Indians (MI), Rajasthan Royals (RR) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) are still fighting for the fourth spot.
The chase started off in style. Taking on the swing bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Sandeep Sharma, Lynn and Narine went off to a flying start.
Narine tore into Sandeep and Siddharth Kaul in their opening spells. He set the platform with a 10-ball 29, to Shakib Al Hasan.
Narine’s blitzkrieg allowed Uthappa time to settle down.
Lynn was sensible in shot selection and spot on with running calls. He put off the poor deliveries to the fence before falling for 55 to a well-judged catch by Manish Pandey in the deep.
Karthik promoted himself up the order to make sure nothing went wrong. He has been in rich form, especially during chases. He made sure the scoreboard kept ticking, ensuring at the same time that KKR did not lose wickets.
By the time Uthappa fell, the match was as good as sealed. Andre Russell and Nitish Rana fell in an attempt to finish things off quickly, but Karthik’s presence meant KKR could do no wrong.
SRH have now lost three consecutive encounters proceeding to the Playoffs. It isn’t the ideal scenario despite them being table toppers, at least at this stage.
They certainly have issues to address. SRH continued to be sloppy in the field today, whereas their lower order managed only 31 off the last 30 balls.
Earlier, SRH have posted 172 for 9 in 20 overs. The innings commenced with SRH trying out a new opening pair, Shikhar Dhawan and Shreevats Goswami. The run-flow stepped up after a couple of overs.
Andre Russell’s 20-run third over changed the momentum in SRH’s favour. His line and length were too predictable, and Goswami hammered him all around.
Dhawan was elegant as ever, pouncing on anything even slightly off target. He also freed his arms whenever there was width on offer outside off. The KKR bowlers couldn’t get Dhawan to edge a single one.
Goswami perished for 35 completely against the run of play. Kane Williamson, with innovative shots and impeccable timing, was on course for his ninth fifty of the tournament. He was striking at over 200 before he found the fielder at deep cover.
Jason Searles could have removed Dhawan as well but Sunil Narine made a mess of the catch. Searles got Williamson instead.
Williamson (661), currently Orange Cap holder, now has second-most runs in a season by an SRH batsman. He has also compiled third-most runs in a season by a captain (after Virat Kohli and Warner).
The last over, by Krishna, pulled SRH back. He got Pandey with his first ball; then, after a dot and a four, Shakib Al Hasan with his fourth and Rashid Khan with his fifth. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was run out off the sixth. SRH scored 7 for 31 off the last 5 overs including 4 for 4 in the last.