High drama, it seems, can never be too far from a Kolkata Knight Riders batting effort.
Ten overs into the 158-run chase against Chennai Super Kings, it seemed as if the Knight Riders of the infamous batting meltdowns had shown up to play. The absence of Robin Uthappa and Jacques Kallis left plenty of volatility to go around. Within a period of 17 balls between the third and the fifth overs, Knight Riders lurched haplessly from 9 for 0 to 9 for 2 and then 21 for 4. Ashish Nehra took three of those wickets, including two off two in the third over and Mohit Sharma, his run-up issues notwithstanding, had managed to get one, too. Soon, Suryakumar Yadav was gone and Knight Riders were 51 for 5.
And then Ryan ten Doeschate and Andre Russell pulled off a heist. Knight Riders went into the final 10 overs needing 98 runs, they won with an over to spare.
The scorecard will show the pair had added 80 runs in 45 balls but the numbers fall short of the brutality with which ten Doeschate and Russell accumulated the runs, underlining their reputations as short-format specialists. Russell, in particular, has played a few innings like these for Jamaica Tallawahs in the Caribbean Premier League and it was his charge in the 11th over from Ravindra Jadeja that signalled the change in the game. Russell smacked two sixes and a four in a 17-run over to temper the required run rate and give the Knight Riders room to breathe.
Thereon, the pair did not allow the Super Kings bowlers to pile on the pressure. Dwayne Bravo bowled a couple of quiet overs but the batsmen controlled the run rate well, taking 18 runs off the 16th over to drag the equation down to a winnable 32 off 24. The game was decidedly in Knight Riders’ hands and although they lost two wickets towards the end, there was little Super Kings could do to wrest the advantage back.
Where Russell’s fifty was all power – he finished with a strike rate of 232 – ten Doeschate was calmer, turning the strike repeatedly but finding the six and the four at the right moment in an over. He continued in the same vein after Russell fell, and brought up his fifty with a six in the final over of the match.