It was a match between two top teams on Wednesday when Kolkata Knight Riders, second on the table, took on Rising Pune Supergiant, fourth on the table. RPS have been on a roll, winning one tough match after the other and steadily climbing from the bottom half to the top.
Playing at Eden Gardens can be quite intimidating but RPS, the team, turned up on the big day giving KKR a lesson of their own aggressive style of playing and reaching third position on the table after another win. At the helm was the hitherto unheralded Rahul Tripathi, who blazed away to a brilliant knock that will make him a lot more popular in the country.
Things never really went the KKR way at any point of time and it remained so for the rest of the match.
Here are 5 things that went wrong for the Kolkata Knight Riders.
#1 Poor start to their innings
KKR had a bad start to their innings after losing the toss and being asked to bat first. Jaydev Unadkat started off with a wicket-maiden for RPS getting pinch-hitter Sunil Narine in his first over.
Sheldon Jackson got out hit wicket, and by the end of the powerplay, KKR found themselves on 40 for 3 losing their talismanic skipper, Gautam Gambhir; Washington Sundar picking up two wickets.
Things went further south when Imran Tahir snaffled Yusuf Pathan cheaply as KKR stooped to 55 for 4 in the beginning of the 10th over. Despite a brilliant second half, this bad start is what cost them the match, not scoring enough to challenge the RPS batting might on an excellent batting pitch.
#2 Losing Uthappa before the game
Robin Uthappa has been sensational for KKR this IPL with 384 runs (third amongst run-getters) at 42.66 at a phenomenal strike-rate of 170.66, the highest of the top 10 run-getters by a comfortable margin.
So, it was a massive blow for KKR when they lost their most aggressive batsman who is suffering from a hamstring niggle.
He was replaced by Suryakumar Yadav, who did play an excellent hand, towards the end. However, the absence of an enforcer at the top cost KKR dearly as they couldn’t get a move on especially after losing early wickets in a heap. Uthappa also doubled up as the wicket-keeper in previous matches giving them some extra flexibility.
#3 None of the batsmen getting big knocks
Several KKR batsmen got starts but none of them really went on to make a big one in order to anchor the innings. Gambhir was out for 24, Pandey scored 37, Grandhomme made 36 at blistering pace and Yadav scored an unbeaten 30*. But KKR needed at least one half-century from one of its top 5.
Contrast that to RPS for whom Rahul Tripathi played one of the best innings of the IPL, almost seeing the target through with the most elegant and powerful stroke-play and ended with a score of 93. Tripathi showed the importance of a top batsman staying at the crease as the second highest score after him for RPS was Ben Stokes’ 14 runs.
#4 Off-day for Nathan Coulter-Nile
Nathan Coulter-Nile got a nasty delivery from Dan Christian when he was hit right on the front grille of his helmet by a speedy bouncer. One wonders if that had an effect on him as he was off-colour when he came out to bowl.
Coulter-Nile, usually rapid and intimidating, was smashed for 41 runs in his 3 overs, conceding 6 fours and 2 sixes, Tripathi flaying him around the park.
Woakes did some damage control and so did Umesh Yadav, but KKR’s total was so low that they couldn’t afford even one of their strike bowlers to have an off-day. RPS raced away to their fastest 50 (4.2 overs) and their best power-play score (74 for 2), the second highest against KKR in their history – that would take some doing.
#5 Narine bowling late
It was a mystery why the Sunil Narine was brought on so late when Tripathi was going hammer and tongs at all the pacers. Narine bowled in the 8th over by which time Tripathi was well set on 48* off just 20 balls.
While Narine got the big wicket of Stokes in his fourth over, it was too little too late for KKR. The West Indian went for 28 runs in his 4 overs and KKR needed more than that from him.
More importantly, one wonders if he would have been more effective if introduced early especially when the ball was coming on so nicely onto the bat from the pacers. Kuldeep Yadav too was tidy sans the four sixes that Tripathi hit off his bowling, three of them off consecutive deliveries ensuring RPS were safe despite a late wobble.