Nitish Rana (80) and Rahul Tripathi (53) hit fluent half-centuries to help Kolkata Knight Riders beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by 10 runs at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday. On a slow but respectable batting wicket, SRH’s Rashid Khan (2/24) was again at his peak, posing difficult questions to the KKR batsmen, but most of his bowling colleagues were unsuccessful. Despite Jonny Bairstow’s valiant half-century, Hyderabad lost skipper David Warner (3) and Wriddhiman Saha (7) early on and were still playing catch-up.
In the end, they were able to score 177 runs for five wickets. Warner was dropped for nought by Pat Cummins in the first over bowled by Harbhajan Singh, but he was unable to make effective use of the opportunity and fell to pacer Prasidh Krishna, while Saha was clean bowled by Shakib Al Hasan.
At a steady run pace, Jonny Bairstow (55) and Manish Pandey (61 not out) formed a partnership. Cummins, an Australian pacer, ended their 92-run partnership when he had Bairstow trapped at backward point by Rana.
SRH needed 70 runs from the final five overs. Krishna struck Mohammed Nabi (14) in the leg, but the Afghan retaliated with a thunderous six. He went for a slower one, but Eoin Morgan caught him.
Abdul Samad, a 19-year-old from Jammu and Kashmir, hit two sixes and a four off Cummins in the penultimate over to hold SRH in contention. Andre Russell of KKR kept his nerves to deny SRH a victory with 22 runs required from the last over. Earlier, after being asked to take first shot, left-handed opener Rana struck the ball hard and clean to give his side a positive lead.
His off-side strokes, such as drives and slices, were of the finest calibre and a visual delight. Even though Subhman Gill was initially silent, neither Bhuvneshwar Kumar nor T Natarajan could stop Rana from touching boundaries. He touched three boundaries in a row against Sandeep Sharma. To make it much easier for KKR, Gill opened up his arms and struck a huge straight six off Natarajan.
As Rashid got the ball in his hands, however, the run-flow was disrupted. When he fooled Gill with a wrong’un to find the stumps, he provided the breakthrough. After surviving an LBW appeal from Rashid, Rana kept going high, completing his half-century with a six off Vijay Shankar. Taking the DRS message, he had the ruling reversed. After having his fifty, Rana proceeded to punish Natarajan and Sandeep with sixes.
Rahul Tripathi, his colleague on the other end, stroked confidently and fluently as well. He hit a six off Bhuvneshwar and then a cheeky four in the third-man area.
He hit another boundary off Bhuvneshwar to bring up his fifty, but Natarajan dismissed him shortly after when he top-edged a strike. Rashid also returned the risky Andre Russell (5). In the 18th over, Mohammed Nabi (2/32) bowled Rana and Eoin Morgan (2) off successive balls.