The Kolkata Knight Riders returned to the top of the table with a seven-wicket win over Rising Pune Supergiant at Pune. Both KKR and RPS had dropped their respective Man of the Match from their previous game in Nathan Coulter-Nile and Ben Stokes and it was the Knight Riders who won the toss and elected to field first.
Steve Smith’s 37-ball 51 assisted by Ajinkya Rahane’s 41-ball 46, Rahul Tripathi’s 23-ball 38 and cameos of 23 and 16 from MS Dhoni and Dan Christian respectively, took RPS to a challenging total of 182/5 in their 20 overs.
In reply, Sunil Narine began well for KKR but was dismissed for 16 following which Robin Uthappa joined skipper Gautam Gambhir at the crease. The duo began to build a solid partnership with Uthappa being the aggressor and Gambhir playing second fiddle.
The duo formed a partnership of 158 from 85 deliveries to turn the match in KKR’s favour. Both Uthappa and Gambhir were dismissed within five balls of each other after scoring 87 and 62 respectively but by then, the match was already out of RPS’ reach.
A boundary from debutant Darren Bravo took KKR past the finish line in 18.1 overs. Uthappa was adjudged the Man of the Match for his 47-ball knock of 87 which comprised seven fours and six sixes.
Here are five things that went wrong for the Rising Pune Supergiant against the Knight Riders.
#5 Rahane’s slow innings
Ajinkya Rahane was the second-highest scorer for RPS in the match with 46 but his 41-ball innings lacked bite as he mainly defended his wicket without showing much aggressive intent. Even during the powerplay, 35 of RPS’ total of 57 was scored by Rahul Tripathi as Rahane only scored 19 from 18 deliveries.
Even though Rahane is not the most aggressive batsman, he has played some pretty quick innings on the batting-friendly wicket of Pune and keeping in mind the power in KKR’s batting lineup, he needed to play a similar innings. Had Rahane batted more aggressively or been dismissed early, then RPS may have reached a much higher total.
#4 Poor fielding
One of the biggest reasons why Rising Pune Supergiant ended up on the losing side was their terrible fielding during their defense. Two catches were dropped during the run-chase and both were extremely costly drops.
The first dropped catch came during the seventh over when Uthappa mistimed a sweep shot off an Imran Tahir delivery. The ball went high up in the air towards deep midwicket where Jaydev Unadkat made an attempt to catch the ball but fell down to allow a boundary.
At the time, Uthappa was batting on 12 from as many deliveries and the drop proved to be extremely costly as he went on to score another 75 runs from just 35 deliveries.
The second dropped catch came during the 11th over when Gambhir got a top-edge in an attempt to pull a Dan Christian delivery but Washington Sundar could not hold on to the ball at fine leg. Gambhir was batting on 31 from 24 balls at that time and post the drop, scored another 32 runs from 23 deliveries.
RPS will have to work on their fielding if they are to keep their play-off hopes alive as they cannot afford any more slip-ups with their next match against the Royal Challengers Bangalore whose batting is their main strength.
#3 Losing Dhoni and Tiwary in the same over
After the solid start provided by Rahul Tripathi, Ajinkya Rahane and Steve Smith batted quite well during the middle overs and after Rahane’s dismissal, Dhoni came in to join Smith during the 14th over. Dhoni was looking in good touch as by the end of the 17th over, he was batting on 23 from just 11 deliveries, with the scorecard reading 147/3.
However, in the second ball of the 18th over, Dhoni came down the ground to go after Kuldeep Yadav only for the latter to sneak in a googly which the former Indian skipper was unable to read and was eventually stumped by Robin Uthappa.
Following Dhoni’s dismissal, Manoj Tiwary came in to bat and was sent back to the pavilion for 1 after a crafty delivery from Yadav missed his bat and went towards Uthappa who instantly took off the bails.
This was the second wicket that fell for RPS in the 18th over with both being of batsmen capable of going big during the death overs. Had both players been more careful, then RPS may have crossed 200.
#2 Poor bowling
The RPS bowling was disastrous as all the bowlers went for over 7.5 runs an over with Dan Christian being the least expensive of the lot, conceding 31 runs in his four overs. The likes of Jaydev Unadkat, Shardul Thakur, and Washington Sundar were unable to restrict the KKR batsmen while Imran Tahir was the worst bowler of the match, giving away 48 runs in his four overs. A number of his deliveries were bowled outside the off-stump which gave the likes of Gambhir and Uthappa enough room to hit them big.
One big error made by the bowlers, especially the pacers, was that they bowled too many short deliveries to Gambhir and Uthappa despite seeing them hit fours and sixes off them. After last night’s performance, the RPS bowling department will have to regroup if they are to go any further in the tournament.
#1 Dropping Ben Stokes
Rising Pune Supergiant made a huge gamble today by dropping Ben Stokes who was their hero in their previous match against Mumbai Indians where he bowled a brilliant spell of 2/21 and scored a 12-ball 17 with the bat.
Against KKR, RPS opted to go for Faf du Plessis and thus, benched Stokes. However, the move turned out to be a dim-witted one as the South African wasn’t even brought out to bat. Seeing that bowling is RPS’ weaker area, they could have replaced Stokes with someone like Lockie Ferguson who is a good strike bowler.
Having seen today’s result, RPS will definitely bring Stokes back for the next match or at least consider selecting a bowler as his replacement.