IPL 2020: Shubman Gill leads a super Knights’ show against Sunrisers Hyderabad
Apart from the razzmatazz, thrilling finishes and exhibition of skill from the stars, what makes the Indian Premier League (IPL) fascinating is seeing new Indian players make a mark every season.
In recent times, Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) have paid attention on investing in young talent. They have gone big on former India under-19 boys picking Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti, the pace duo from the 2018 youth World Cup, and batting prodigy Shubman Gill.
With the young fast bowlers beset by injuries, the investment hadn’t really yielded dividends. Saturday evening though was rewarding for KKR’s talent scouts as Mavi and Nagarkoti finally played together.
Unorthodox spinner Varun Chakravarthy’s impressive performance made it a perfect bowling show for KKR. Because of his unique style, Chakravarthy, 29, has been billed as the next big discovery after being picked out of nowhere in the Tamil Nadu Premier League. It led to Kings XI Punjab paying a whopping bid of R8.4 crore last year.
Star pacer Pat Cummins was incisive at the start of the innings and senior pro Andre Russell gave nothing away at the end, but the story of the match was how they were complemented by Chakravarthy, Mavi and Nagarkoti.
That resulted in SRH being restricted to 142/4, which is the third lowest IPL score for a team that’s lost only four wickets. The icing on the cake for KKR was seeing the young Gill leading their chase with another classy exhibition of batting, scoring 70 (62b; 5x4; 2x6) on way to a seven-wicket win.
It was KKR’s first win of the tournament and the second straight defeat for SRH.
When SRH won the toss and decided to bat, David Warner was going to be the wicket KKR had to get. In his last two knocks against KKR, the SRH skipper had made 152 runs, including two half-centuries, at a strike rate of 167.03. The game-changing moment of the match was provided by Chakravarthy. With the most prolific batsman in the IPL well set to change gears having got 36 off 30 balls, the KKR spinner bamboozled him into offering a simple return catch. In four overs, Chakravarthy kept the batsmen guessing with a mix of wrist spin, finger spin and off-breaks, looking to bowl full with a consistent off-stump line.
Mavi was KKR’s best bowler in the defeat against Mumbai Indians and he continued to build on it -- the highlight being the 19th over where he restricted Wriddhiman Saha and Mohammad Nabi to six runs.
For KKR supporters, it was simply heartening to see Nagarkoti on the park. The Rajasthan bowler has been three seasons with the franchise but injuries delayed his debut till Saturday. He made for a fine sight with his flowing run-up and classical action. KKR’s young brigade is among the ones to watch out for.