IPL 2017: Gautam Gambhir, Sunil Narine help KKR thrash KXIP by eight wickets
Sunil Narine had opened the innings for the first time in his life on New Year’s Day in 2017. That was in the Big Bash League (BBL) and Narine made a 13-ball 21 for Melbourne Renegades. It was enough for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to let poker faced spinner to have a swing at the start of the innings. The Eden Gardens crowd gasped in disbelief first and then some more when he started putting bat to ball. (Highlights)
Narine helped KKR to their third good opening stand and their best in the IPL in powerplay. With KKR on 76/1 after six, the rest was easy and skipper Gautam Gambhir’s classy, unbeaten 72 ensured an eight-wicket win. Their excellent record against KXIP, who batted and bowled poorly, improved to 14 wins in 20 games. (Scorecard)
Narine missed connecting most of Sandeep Sharma’s opening over barring an upper-cut boundary. With Sharmas Sandeep and Ishant angling deliveries across the left-handers, even Gautam Gambhir was struggling till he got an outside edge and a square-cut, both fetching boundaries. Sandeep Sharma’s next over had Narine hitting a six off the first ball and as it disturbed his length, Gambhir hit two fours.
The fifth over, from KXIP skipper Glenn Maxwell, yielded four fours, with openers sharing two each, and Narine then tore into Varun Aaron. The first three balls were on outside leg-stump and Narine hit two sixes and a four before holing out. An 18-ball 37 with four fours and three sixes made up for his less than ordinary show in the field and added to figures of 4-0-19-1 meant KKR had found an all-rounder. And Chris Lynn some competition!
Encapsulating the ‘Knightmare’ on the field was the way Gambhir held Aaron’s simple catch, in three attempts. It ended Kings XI Punjab at 170/9. The Knights dropped Manan Vohra and Glenn Maxwell and leaked runs beginning with Piyush Chawla in the innings’ second ball but no KXIP batsman stayed long enough to make an impact though Hashim Amla, Manan Vohra, Glenn Maxwell, Wriddhiman Saha and David Miller all promised to.
The fickleness of this format was underscored in the 18th over, bowled by Umesh Yadav. Miller smote the first ball for a six at backward square-leg and the next pierced the gap between widish mid-off and extra-cover for a boundary. The remaining four balls yielded three wickets and one run.
Miller fell to a good catch by Manish Pandey and Wriddhiman Saha went off the next ball; Chris Woakes too showing they weren’t all butter-fingers. Off the last ball, Umesh dismissed Axar Patel when Narine finally held a catch.
Umesh finished with four for 33 after taking three wickets for just one run in his final over. From 155/4 after 17.2 overs, with Saha and Miller having added 57 in 5.2 overs, KXIP could add only 15 till the innings ended.