2-time IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) 2021 campaign got off to a winning, ‘Jeetbo’ start on Sunday as they overcame the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) by 10-runs at Chennai.
The men in purple-and-gold had copped much flak for their inconsistent top-order batting approach last year. While promising, none of Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, or Rahul Tripathi could stick around for long enough to take the game deep.
Rejuvenated KKR top-order leads victory charge
This season, however, captain Eoin Morgan seems to have instilled a lot more confidence in the batting order, which clearly showed in KKR’s batting approach last night. Rana and Gill teed off with an impressive 53-run opening partnership- a stark improvement from their patchy starts from last season.
Following Gill’s departure, Rahul walked in at one-down and joined Nitish for a defining 93-run partnership. Vice-captain Dinesh Karthik’s 22(9) cameo restored some momentum towards the end; after Rashid Khan (2/24) and Mohammed Nabi (2/32) had made short work of Kolkata’s middle order. KKR finished at 187/6.
Shubman Gill smacks T Natarajan for a magnificent no-look six
Shubman Gill (15 off 13), while unable to prolong his outing at the crease, had a few memorable shots for the cameras to take home. None probably more iconic, than his no-look six off T Natarajan’s bowling. During the fifth over of KKR’s innings, the 21-year-old opener elegantly punched a slot-delivery from the yorker-king into long-on; courtesy of an effortless, straight, plumb ‘no-look’ shot.
The shot, named after Andre ‘Spiceman’ Fletcher’s fabulous hitting in the Big Bash League; features the batsman right in their zone, launching the ball effortlessly into the night sky. All the while, their eyes are aimed directly away from the ball, emphasizing their exceptional concentration!
Ironically, it’s boring to talk about a no-look shot without directly looking at it. So here’s a video of Gill’s scintillating maximum:
— Cricket Insight | #IPL | #IPL2021 (@CricInsight20) April 11, 2021
SRH middle order unable to play enough high-risk shots
Meanwhile, SRH had a few hiccups early on in their chase, as they lost captain David Warner and Wriddhiman Saha inside the first three overs. However, Jonny Bairstow (55 off 40), batting two-down, and Manish Pandey turned the tide of the match with a defiant partnership of 92-runs.
Bairstow’s wicket in the 13th over, however, triggered a period of low-scoring for the Sunrisers; as none of Pandey, Nabi, and Vijay Shankar could find boundaries consistently. Abdul Samad scored a few lusty blows towards the end, but ultimately, SRH fell short by 10-runs. Pandey finished unbeaten on 61 off 44, while Prasidh Krishna ended up as KKR’s best bowler with figures of 2/35.