Chasing a target of 195, Delhi Capitals (DC) needed to get off to a good start, but that wasn't the case as Pat Cummins dismissed Ajinkya Rahane off the first delivery of the innings. Heading into this match, Cummins had taken just three wickets in 10 games and the dismissal of Rahane would have come as a huge confidence-booster for the Australian pacer.
That showed as, in his next over, he bowled the in-form Shikhar Dhawan with a fine delivery to put Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on top. And there was no looking back after. Varun Chakravarthy was the star of the show as he secured career-best bowling figures of 5/20 with KKR completing a comfortable 59-run victory against DC.
Earlier in the day, DC had opted to bowl first and got off to the most excellent of starts.
One of the biggest issues for KKR this season had been their slow starts during the Powerplay. Before this match, they had a run-rate of 6.7 between overs 1-6 in IPL 2020 and, in an attempt to improve on that front, there was a change at the top of the order with Nitish Rana opening the innings alongside Shubman Gill. This was Kolkata's fourth different opening pair this season.
Gill began aggressively with two boundaries off the first over, but his stay in the middle didn't last long as Anrich Nortje dismissed him in the very next over. KKR's first wicket partnership has a batting average of 19.6 this season, which is the lowest among all teams. Rahul Tripathi, who walked into bat at number three this time around, played a few lofted shots before he was bowled by a splendid yorker from Nortje in the final over of the Powerplay.
Dinesh Karthik has had a poor season with the bat, something that led to him giving up captaincy as well. That move, though, doesn't seem to have helped much thus far as his poor run of form continued here. It was no surprise to see Kagiso Rabada with the wicket – this was the 25th consecutive IPL game in which the South African pacer has accounted for a dismissal.
The fact that the run-rate was below six at the time perhaps prompted KKR to send Sunil Narine at number five. The move worked magnificently with Narine and Rana taking the attack to the DC bowlers.
When KKR lost their third wicket, they had scored just 42 runs from 7.2 overs. In the 12.4 overs that followed, though, it was a completely different story. In what is a crucial match for them, the Kolkata-based franchise managed a mammoth 152 from the final 76 deliveries of the innings.
This was mainly because of the splendid 115-run partnership for the fourth wicket between Rana and Narine. The latter made a 32-ball 64 which turned the match on its head after the impressive start from DC's bowlers.
While Rabada took the wicket of Narine in the 17th over, Rana and Eoin Morgan ensured that there was no slowing down, putting on a 37-run fifth wicket stand from just 19 deliveries. Rana's 81 is his second-best score in the IPL and never before had he faced over 50 deliveries in an innings in India's premier franchise-based T20 league.
At the end of the innings, KKR would have been quite pleased with their total of 194/6.
After Cummins took the initial two wickets, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant put on a solid partnership for the third wicket but with a monumental required run-rate, a stand of 63 runs from 53 deliveries was not ideal.
Before Iyer and Pant could get a move on, Chakravarthy came into the bowling attack and picked up the wickets of Pant, Iyer and Shimron Hetmyer which put KKR in complete control of the game.
DC had a tall task ahead of them as they required 85 runs from the final five overs and all their hopes were pretty much gone when Marcus Stoinis was dismissed off the first delivery of the 16th over. Axar Patel soon followed Stoinis back to the pavilion, with Chakravarthy registering the first five-wicket haul of this season.
With this win, KKR now have 12 points on the board and have some breathing space at the fourth spot. On the other hand, DC have 14 points but could fall out of the top two if Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) defeat Chennai Super Kings (CSK) tomorrow.
(Image Courtesy - BCCI)