Umesh Yadav continued his dream run by a four-wicket haul before Andre Russell returned to his brutal best to sack Kolkata Knight Riders to an easy six-wicket win over Punjab Kings here on Friday. Umesh (4/4), who went into the season with just two games in two IPL seasons and initially went unsold at auction, produced the best T20 figures of his career to help KKR sack Punjab for an under par 137 in 18.2 overs. It was supposed to be a straight forward chase, but Rahul Chahar sparked Punjab’s hopes with a double wicket maiden to bring KKR down to 51 for four.
However, Russell (70 not off 31 balls) came out in the middle and changed the game with his barrage of sixes, eight in all, to turn it into a cakewalk in just 14.3 overs. He hit three sixes off Odean Smith in a 30-run over.
No rope is long enough when Russell is firing with all the guns and he was in that kind of zone on Friday night. The Jamaican dasher closed the game fittingly with a pair of sixes from Liam Livingtsone’s friendly leg fractures. It was KKR’s second win in three games, while Punjab suffered their first loss of the season after beating RCB.
Previously, KKR bowlers choked a power-laden batting lineup from Punjab Kings.
With heavy dew forming in the last half of the games, fielding first has become a no-brainer as this IPL and KKR skipper Shreyas Iyer mentioned it right away at the toss.
Punjab, who had successfully chased 200 plus in their opening game, enjoyed a good power play yielding 62 for 3 in six overs.
Veteran pacemaker Umesh, who has proved his critics wrong this season, made another breakthrough early in the game, removing opposition skipper Mayank Agarwal, who was found perpendicular up front after missing a rather straight and full throw in the first over of the game. .
Sri Lankan Bhanuka Rajapaksa (31 out of 9) who produced a match-winning knockout in the first game looked sensational at Wankhede Stadium.
During his brief sojourn in the center, the top-ranking batter hammered three fours and as many sixes, mostly toward the center of the wicket region, leaving the spectators in awe. His breathtaking effort was perhaps the only clear in an otherwise disappointing innings.
Iyer impressed with his leadership. He brought Umesh back into the middle overs to make sure there was no backlash from Punjab. He also made use of a slip in the 15th over and was rewarded with the wicket of Rahul Chahar.
His new ball partner Tim Southee and KKR’s retained spinners Varun Chakaravarthy and Sunil Narine were also too good for the Punjab batters.
Livingstone (19 out of 16) was able to convert his start, while India U-19 star Raj Angad Bawa found it difficult for the second game in a row.
Playing his first game of the seasons, Kagisa Rabada (25 out of 16) saved Punjab’s blush by drawing much-needed boundaries to bring the total close to 140.
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