On a two-paced wicket, against a quality bowling attack, Rising Pune Supergiant were set a chase of 156 runs which seemed to be a par score. But Rahul Tripathi left aside all these aspects and came to crease with a clear mindset and one simple strategy - attack the new ball and score runs during the powerplay.
The Pune opener stepped out on his very first ball which was delivered at 140+ kmph, and smashed Coulter-Nile for three fours and one six in the third over. While wickets went down at regular intervals at the other end, Tripathi continued with his aggressive strokeplay and ensured that the KKR bowlers never got an opportunity to dominate the proceedings.
However after Manoj Tiwary’s wicket, KKR became successful in putting the brakes on Pune’s rising run rate and from over number eight to twelve, Pune scored only 22 runs. As KKR’s spinners dried the runs and the Eden Gardens crowd egged their team on, Pune had no other option but to deliver a return punch.
And once again, Tripathi stood up to spearhead the attack and this time, he took on the young spinner, Kuldeep Yadav.
The Play of the Day
On the first ball of the 13th over, Ben Stokes took a single and offered Tripathi the strike. Yadav gave the ball some air and pitched it on the off stump, inviting the batsman to play a big shot. Tripathi, who was on 62 from 33 balls, had got his eye in and knew the pace of the wicket. He took the invitation, went down the track, and hoicked Yadav over mid-wicket for a humongous six.
In the next ball, the young leg-spinner pulled his length back and delivered a short ball which the Pune opener deposited over long-on region for another big six. He went to the pitch of the ball courtesy of his giant front foot stride and played an enormous slog sweep. By this time, the Kolkata crowd had gone silent and the match was well in control of the visiting team.
But Tripathi wasn’t done yet. After conceding back to back sixes, Kuldeep again tossed the ball in the air and pitched it on the stumps. Tripathi who was on fire didn’t hesitate to go for another biggie. Although he didn’t connect it well, it still had enough to sail over the ropes.
The man at the long-on thought he had a chance for a while but then was forced to watch helplessly as the ball landed in KKR’s dug out. Three balls, three sixes, and Tripathi put Pune in the driver's seat in the chase.
Thanks to the big-hitting by the right-hand batsman, the equation, which was 45 runs from 47 balls, quickly moved in favour of RPS with the scoreboard now showing 27 runs from 44 balls.
Rahul Tripathi’s assault on Kuldeep Yadav should have closed the game for Pune, but KKR fought back and got quick wickets. Kuldeep Yadav came back strongly and picked up the vital wicket of Dhoni, while Narine sent back the dangerous Stokes. Even Tripathi failed to complete the chase and fell to Chris Woakes.
But Daniel Christian kept calm and steered Pune home in the 20th over. Pune won the game by four wickets and Rahul Tripathi’s knock of 93 runs from 52 balls turned out to be the decisive performance of the night.