IPL 2020: Kolkata Knight Riders pacers upstage Jofra Archer’s brilliance as Royals lose
Australia and South Africa players dominated the foreign legion at the Indian Premier League in its early editions, but the last few seasons have found a global balance with England players making a great impact in the T20 tournament.
But for the Covid-19 pandemic, England’s one-day world champions of 2019 would have performed in packed stadiums in India. Though the UAE venues are virtually empty, the English flavour was in the air in Dubai.
Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes were the big stars in the 2019 ICC World Cup win. The all-rounder hasn’t joined up with Rajasthan Royals due to personal reasons, but Archer was sensational on a surprisingly fast wicket. The predictions of slow turners were not entirely true on Wednesday’s evidence.
Archer’s easy action belies pace and hostility even in a format cut out for batsmen. He bowled 150 kph consistently after skipper Steve Smith chose to bowl and made Kolkata Knight Riders batsmen struggled. It took England skipper Eoin Morgan, also the man behind a national limited-overs rise, to provide the late thrust.
Young Shubman Gill produced another gem at the top (47 – 34b). Archer gave one run in the first over, and then took a wicket for one run in the 12th. Extra bounce drew a top edge from Gill and Archer virtually pushed away ‘keeper Jos Buttler to take the skied return catch. Archer gave two runs in his next over—14th of the innings—but KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik had no clue as edged a ball that moved away late, taking the outside edge.
It took Archer’s final over for KKR to get a boundary, a Pat Cummins drive past cover, before Morgan hit a six after Tom Curran at backward point helped it over. That helped KKR finish on 174/6 before their pacers took charge to leave RR reeling. KKR’s 37–run win will help rise in points table. “Horses for courses”, declared Archer during the break, pointing to the pace-friendly pitch. He also said Royals may have given away 15 extra runs. They could well have conceded 50 more runs.
Pat Cummins showed why KKR made him the costliest buy at the last auctions, bowling a sensational opening spell. He drew the inside-edge of Steve Smith and had left it to KKR’s tearaways Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti to take over.
Injuries had frustrated both fast bowlers over the last two seasons. And they put on some show, with wickets and catches as well. The India U-19 World Cup stars showed what they can deliver when fit and firing. Mavi first surprised the big-hitting Sanju Samson, the extra bounce resulting in a lofted catch to midwicket. Buttler survived Cummins, only for Mavi to draw the edge with a wide ball, taken at backward point. Nagarkoti delivered two more quick wickets. Gill took a low catch at point to get Riyan Parag. Another plan to chase at this IPL looked truly buried once Rahul Tewatia, new star of for the Royals, was bowled trying to take on spinner Varun Chakravarthy.
Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 174/6 in 20 overs (S Gill 47, J Archer 2/18); Rajasthan Royals 137/9 in 20 overs (K Nagarkoti 2/13)