Umesh Yadav continued his dream run with four wickets before Andre Russell returned to his brutal best to kick the Kolkata Knight Riders to a simple six-wick victory over the Punjab Kings this Friday. Umesh (4/23), who entered the season with just two games in two IPL seasons and was initially not sold at auction, produced the best T20 figures of his career to help KKR dismiss Punjab for a under par 137 on 18.2 overs. It was supposed to be a straight chase ahead but Rahul Chahar raised Punjab’s hopes with a double wicket-maiden to reduce KKR to 51 for four.
However, Russell (70 not out of 31 balls) came out in the middle and changed the game with his sixes, a total of eight, to make it a cakewalk of just 14.3 overs. He hit three sixes by Odean Smith in an over that went in 30 runs.
No rope is long enough when Russell is at full speed and he was in that kind of zone on Friday night. The Jamaican dasher fittingly ended the match with a couple of sixes from Liam Livingtsone’s friendly leg fracture. It was KKR’s second win in three matches while Punjab suffered its first loss of the season after the victory over RCB.
Earlier, KKR bowlers suffocated a power-laden Punjab King’s line of battle.
With heavy dew setting during the latter half of the matches, field training has first become a no-brainer, this IPL and KKR skipper Shreyas Iyer called it right at the throw.
Punjab, who had successfully chased 200 plus in their opening match, had a good powerplay that gave 62 for 3 on six overs.
Veteran Umesh, who has proven his critics wrong this season, again made the breakthrough early in the match and removed opponent skipper Mayank Agarwal, who was found vertically in front after missing a fairly straight and full delivery in the first over of the match.
Sri Lankan Bhanuka Rajapaksa (31 of 9) who had produced a match-winning knock in the first match, looked in sensational touch at Wankhede Stadium.
During his short stay in the middle, the highest order hammered three fours and as many sixes, mostly towards the middle of the wicket area, which left the spectators in awe. His breathtaking effort was perhaps the only bright one in an otherwise overwhelming round.
Iyer impressed with his leadership. He took Umesh back in midfield to make sure there was no fightback from the Punjab. He also used a slip in the 15th over and was rewarded for it with Rahul Chahar’s wicket.
His new ball partner Tim Southee and KKR’s retained spinners Varun Chakaravarthy and Sunil Narine were also too good for the Punjab batsmen.
Livingstone (19 of 16) was able to convert his start while India U-19 star Raj Angad Bawa got it tough for the second match in a row.
Kagisa Rabada (25 of 16), who played his first game of the season, saved the Punjab blushes by getting much-needed limits to take a total of close to 140.
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