Kolkata Knight Riders’ dismal run ended impressively on Wednesday as they beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by seven wickets in a rain-marred match to go through to Qualifier 2 of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
HT looks at three reasons why the former champions could turn things around to eliminate defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad:
With Sunrisers Hyderabad boasting of the top two run-getters of the IPL this season, keeping them under check was a remarkable achievement. Umesh Yadav and Trent Boult stuck to a disciplined line and length while Sunil Narine and others quickly went through their overs to add to the frustration.
Sunrisers Hyderabad could score only 30 runs in the powerplay overs before Nathan Coulter-Nile ran through the batting order, picking up three wickets, including two in the penultimate over, to restrict the holders to a modest 128.
Be it his shrewd captaincy or his composed batting, the KKR skipper made the difference between the two sides by a mile. He switched his bowlers well, had aggressive field set-ups (two slips and a short leg for Yuvraj in the 14th over), and kept a calm head when SRH wickets were tumbling to see off the game in style.
Despite the paltry revised target of 48 in six overs, his 32 not out off 19 balls was extremely crucial as it bailed his side out of trouble they had put themselves in.
As Sunrisers Hyderabad’s bowling coach Muttiah Muraitharan pointed out in the media conference, Kolkata Knight Riders were extremely lucky the rain didn’t go on for 20 minutes. SRH had a better standing in the group stage and would have gone through to Qualifier 2 had there been no play.
And, the target of 129 might not look great, but teams have successfully defended even 138 at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium this season. That KKR had to chase down a reduced target may have been a blessing in disguise as they might have found it difficult if they had to play all 20 overs.