Kolkata Knight Riders comprehensively swept to a 10-wicket win over Gujarat Lions in their opening match of their Indian Premier League campaign in Rajkot on Friday. Gujarat Lions put up a commanding 183/4 in their 20 overs after being put in but Kolkata’s openers Gautam Gambhir and Chris Lynn put together a mammoth whirlwind 184-run unbeaten partnership in just 14.5 overs to take their team home without breaking a sweat.
Sunil Narine just hasn’t been the force he used to be after he had to change his bowling action several times after being called in 2014. Kolkata Knight Riders though have stuck with him and faithfully handed him the ball after Gujarat raced to 16/0 in 2 overs. But Narine couldn’t really give Gautam Gambhir the breakthrough he wanted, being hammered for 17 off his first two overs with Brendon McCullum taking a special liking to him, smashing him for three fours. More misery followed as he finished with 33 runs in his four overs.
Kuldeep gets McCullum
After his exploits against Australia in Dharamsala, much was expected of young Kuldeep Yadav. Gautam Gambhir tried to play down the hype by saying they wouldn’t put “too much pressure” on him.
Yadav was given the ball in the eighth over and McCullum smashed him for a six and a four in his first over. The young wrist-arm spinner thought held his nerve and got the big Kiwi batsman rapped in front to get him out for a 24-ball 35. Then after Aaron Finch hammered Yusuf Pathan for two big sixes, he got Finch to hole out again, as the Aussie batsman tried to go inside-out and holed out to Suryakumar Yadav.
Raina blazes away in the IPL again, but rides his luck
Drop him from the team, call him a “reluctant cricketer”, but when it’s the IPL, there’s only one player whom you’ll call and that’s Raina.
And true to his reputation, the Gujarat Lions captain kept up his blazing form. He jumped around his crease, took on spin and pace with equal precision, ran hard like he’s always done and basically smashed things around. In the process, he also went past Virat Kohli and regained his top spot on the top run-getters in the IPL. A few mishits apart, he rolled on to his 29th half-century and finished unbeaten on a 51-ball 68.
But Raina rode his lucky. When he was just 14, Kuldeep could have sent him back but shelled a difficult, diving catch. He offered another opportunity on 36 when Trent Boult dived over the boundary line and threw back the ball. The easiest opportunity came when he was 50 but Yusuf Pathan dropped a sitter. Add to that, a lot of mishits which fell just short and Raina was a lucky bugger.
DK’s outrageous shot
What do you call that shot? No, like really. Trent Boult is a good death bowler and there was nothing much wrong in the third ball of the 20th over he delivered. It was full and it was on middle. But Dinesh Karthik, in such amazing form, backed away and nonchalantly reverse-swatted it away behind third man for a boundary. Wow.
Lynn goes Lynn-sane
Chris Lynn can hit it big. And so can Gautam Gambhir. Lynn’s more of the stand and deliver type. And he just stood and dished out justice. Still and clearing his arms. Out of the 13 balls he faced in the Powerplay, only three scoring shots were not a four or six. Everything else was smashed. He lined them up and swung for the hills. The fifty came in just 19 balls at the end of a Dwayne Smith over where Lynn took 23. The joint second-fastest fifty for KKR. He finished on a 41-ball 93. Six fours and eight sixes. Chris Who? Chris Lynn.
But remember the Gambhir
Gambhir’s more of the nudge-it-around and run time. But with Lynn blazing away at the other end, even Gambhir decided to have some fun. Shivil Kaushik’s third over was smashed away by the KKR skipper for four fours. To add insult to the injury, there were four byes as well. It was misery from each end for Gujarat Lions.
And if Raina was Mr Consistent, Gambhir had something to say. The Kolkata captain kept on his merry ways, slashing away to glory and bring up his 32nd half-century in the IPL. That’s three more than Raina and also the joint-highest with David Warner.
Setting an IPL opening partnership record
Records, records and more records. Gambhir and Lynn put together a 184-run opening partnership, the highest of the IPL. They went past Chris Gayle and Tillakaratne Dilshan who had put on 167..
Gujarat put all their eggs in one basket – and suffer
The Lions strategy of putting all their eggs in one basket backfired and how. Sure they strengthened their batting....with the likes of Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina, Aaron Finch and Dwayne Smith, leaving out James Faulkner who can be great at the death. But they did so at the cost of going in with an all-Indian bowling attack.
Their batsman did the job as well as they could, putting up 183. But their bowlers were dreadful. They kept on feeding Lynn’s strengths, they did not even think about mixing up and they gave Gambhir the lines and lengths he wanted. Even more criminally, they bowled dozens of extras, making it easier for KKR. By the end of the sixth over of KKR’s chase, they had already lost the game.
Gujarat Lions 183/4 in 20 overs (Suresh Raina 68 not out, Dinesh Karthik 47; Kuldeep Yadav 2/25, Piyush Chawla 1/33) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders 184/0 in 14.5 overs (Chris Lynn 93 not out, Gautam Gambhir 76 not out; Praveen Kumar 0/13, Shivil Kaushik 0/40) by 10 wickets