Kolkata Knight Riders have been one of the most consistent teams in the IPL. Somehow, they have always found a winning formula – a steady captain, right players in the right positions and not too much reliance on either batting or bowling.
In their opening match of the 10th edition of the IPL against Gujarat Lions, they chased down a target of 184 with five overs and all ten wickets to spare helped by a dominant innings from Chris Lynn and a mediocre effort by the GL bowlers.
Lynn came into this year’s IPL following an amazing run in the Big Bash League where he smashed 26 sixes, the most by a player in the 2016-17 season by far. He carried his good form into the IPL and is our pick for the SK Player of the Match.
Gujarat set a formidable target
Gujarat Lions went into the game with four specialist overseas batsmen – Jason Roy, Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch and Dwayne Smith. Their intent was clear – set up a huge score on the board and put pressure during the chase.
Roy started off things with two beautiful boundaries off Boult in the first over but was dismissed by Chawla in the fourth over. McCullum was then joined by Raina. While Baz kept the score ticking, Raina went on to become the highest run-getter in the IPL, overtaking Virat Kohli.
However, in quick succession, Kuldeep Yadav picked up the wickets of McCullum and the dangerous Finch. Dinesh Karthik and Raina then built a steady partnership for the rest of their innings. DK looked in top form before he was beaten for pace to depart for 47.
Making full use of numerous mishits, two dropped catches and a missed run out, Raina went on to make an unbeaten 68. On a ground whose average first innings score stood at 157, Raina’s men must have thought they had done enough.
An explosive powerplay
In a brave move, Lynn joined Gambhir at the top to start things off for KKR even though Gambhir and Uthappa had formed a successful pair in the previous years. From the very first over, runs flowed almost effortlessly.
A weak Gujarat bowling line up, missing the services of Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo, helped KKR pile on their highest powerplay score in the IPL. Lynn took pressure off Gambhir, allowing his captain to play his natural game. By the end of the powerplay, the Aussie had powered two massive sixes.
Lynn takes on Smith
Smith was brought into bowl immediately after the powerplay and Lynn plundered 23 runs in the over. Smith’s first ball was full and straight and the right-hander welcomed it by clearing his front leg and smashing it over long-on for a huge six.
The second ball got pulled over long-off for a four. Smith’s fourth ball was a short delivery on off. Lynn opened his stance and smacked a flat six. The West Indian followed it with a full and wide delivery outside off stump and Lynn launched it over long off again.
With a single of the last ball of the over, he completed his fifty off 19 balls – the joint second-fastest for KKR.
The onslaught continues
Smith’s over changed the complexion of the game and it required a miracle for GL to turn things around. But Lynn and Gambhir were in no mood to slow down. The skipper moved to another fluent half-century with some brilliant drives and cuts.
Meanwhile, Lynn continued his sublime form. He was particularly strong straight down the wicket. In the 14th over, he lofted a half-tracker outside off over long-on for another juicy six. In the very next over bowled by Kulkarni, he clobbered two more sixes and a four to seal the game in the same over.
GL had a horrible day at Rajkot as five out of their six bowlers ended up with an economy rate of more than 10 – Kulkarni gave away 42 in 2.5 overs; Gony, 32 in two; Kaushik 40 in four; Dwayne Smith 23 in one and Shadab Jakati 30 in three.
Striking at more than 200, Lynn finished the game with 93 from 41 balls and was awarded the Man of the Match for his phenomenal effort.