Opener Shubhman Gill’s unbeaten 70-run knock along with Eoin Morgan’s 42 not out guided Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to their first win this IPL season as they outsmarted Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) by seven wickets with two overs to spare here on Saturday.
Chasing a modest 143-run, KKR, baring few hiccups, overhauled the target comfortably, thanks to the unbeaten knocks by Gill and Morgan. After SRH dragged themselves to 142/4 wickets in 20 overs, KKR finished at 145/3 in 18 overs.
KKR bowlers, too, were clinical with the ball as they restricted SRH to a modest total, before Gill’s heroics in the middle. Pat Cummins, who drew a lot of criticism after his poor show in the previous match, made a great comeback as he conceded just 19 runs from four overs and picked up one wicket.
The other KKR bowlers also remained economical and the entire KKR side clicked together as a unit.
Despite losing opener Sunil Narine, who fell without troubling the scorers, early, young opener Gill ensured his side cross the line with ease as he kept the fight on.
For the second wicket, Nitish Rana (26) and Gill added 37 runs before the former became a victim of T. Natarajan in the fifth over with KKR being reduced to 43/2.
As KKR managed another 10 runs, Afghan spin sensation struck as he trapped KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik before the wickets with KKR scorecard reading 53/3. The tumbling of wickets hardly affected Pandey, who continued to rotate the strike and forged a crucial 92-run unbeaten partnership with Eoin Morgan (42 not out) to drive his side home with two overs to spare. Morgan’s innings contained three boundaries and two sixes.
For SRH, Khaleel Ahmed, Natarajan and Rashid bagged a wicket each.
Earlier, SunRisers Hyderabad rode Manish Pandey’s valiant effort to reach 142/4. Pandey’s innings was decorated with three boundaries and couple of hits into the stands. En-route to his knock, Manish was involved in a 62-run stand for the third wicket with stumper-cum batsman Wriddhiman Saha (30).
Opting to bat, SRH started on a cautious note before Pat Cummins, who was amongst runs in the previous clash, drew the first blood as he dismissed opener Jonny Bairstow (5) in the fourth over itself.
David Warner and Pandey then added 35 runs for the second wicket before mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy sent back the SRH skipper in the 10th over with SRH’s scorecard reading 59/2. Warner scored 36 runs off 30 balls before falling.
Saha and Pandey then denied their opponents making any further inroads. However, their slow innings hurt the side’s chances of posting a big total. While trying to up the ante, Pandey was caught and bowled by Andre Russell in the 18th over before Karthik too, departed in the final over as he fell short of the crease.
Mohammad Nabi and Abhishek Sharma remained unbeaten on 11 and two runs respectively as SRH reached a fighting total.
Brief scores: KKR 145/3 in 18 overs (Shubhman Gill 70 not out, Eoin Morgan 42 not out; Rashid Khan 1/25) beat SRH 142/4 in 20 overs (Manish Pandey 51, David Warner 36; Andre Russell 1/16, Pat Cummins 1/19) by 7 wickets