Lucknow Super Giants go top as pacers crush Kolkata Knight Riders
It has been a far from ideal IPL season for Kolkata Knight Riders. They started decently with three wins from the first four matches, but then calamity struck as the team lost five games on the bounce. And just when it seemed they had managed to get their campaign back on track with a win against the fancied Rajasthan Royals, KKR are back to their losing ways.
On Saturday, the Knight Riders received a comprehensive 75-run thumping at the hands of Lucknow Super Giants. Chasing 177 to win, KKR folded up for a paltry 101 in Pune. Andre Russell (45 off 19b; 3×4, 5×6) and Sunil Narine (22 off 12b; 3×4, 1×6) provided some fireworks, but the Lucknow pace attack was too strong for Kolkata. Avesh Khan (3/19) and Jason Holder (3/31) shared six wickets between them.
AS IT HAPPENED
Earlier, when Lucknow openers KL Rahul and Quinton de Kock walked out to take guard against the KKR bowlers, all eyes were on the LSG skipper. After all, Rahul had scored 451 runs in the tournament, and was chasing Jos Buttler for the Orange Cap.
The motley crowd at the MCA International Stadium was hopeful Rahul would add to the two centuries he had scored in the 2022 IPL. But reality proved to be totally anti-climactic. Rahul was run-out for a diamond duck (out without facing a ball), as his opposite number Shreyas Iyer swooped in from short extra-cover and effected a brilliant direct hit in the first over of the Lucknow innings.
It seemed the unfortunate mix-up between Rahul and Quinton de Kock would affect the South African’s batting temperament. Instead of getting fazed, de Kock along with Deepak Hooda upped the ante in the Powerplay overs. While de Kock was severe on anything short, implementing the cut and pull to good effect, Hooda made sure the balls that were pitched up went towards the fence or over it.
De Kock (50 off 29b; 4×4, 3×6) brought up his half-century in the 7th over of the innings, but was defeated by Sunil Narine in the very next over. In his attempt to loft a good length, away going delivery towards the extra-cover boundary, de Kock only managed to scoop a simple catch to the long-off fielder.
Hooda (41 off 27b; 4×4, 2×6) kept marching ahead, but the wicket had started to slow down a bit and was giving the spinners decent amount of purchase. The Lucknow innings, consequently, got slowed down. Andre Russell made sure KKR saw the back of Hooda with a hard length ball that got extra bounce, as Hooda’s attempted pull didn’t see a lot of distance and the catch was taken close to the midwicket boundary. We’re on a mission.
At one point, it seemed the LSG innings wouldn’t cross the 150-run mark. But, Marcus Stoinis (28 off 14b; 1×4, 3×6) and Jason Holder (13 off 4b; 2×6) hit some lusty blows towards the end to propel the score to 176/7. The 19th over bowled by Shivam Mavi almost saw six sixes being hit. The first three balls were sent beyond the boundary ropes by Stoinis before he was dismissed off the fourth delivery.
Holder, however, made sure the fifth and sixth also went for the maximum as Lucknow took full toll and collected 30 runs from the over.