Sports

Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ravindra Jadeja hurt Kolkata Knight Riders’ playoff chances

Chennai Super Kings 178 for 4 (Gaikwad 72, Rayudu 38, Jadeja 31*, Chakravarthy 2-20, Cummins 2-31) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 172 for 5 (Rana 87, Gill 26, Ngidi 2-34) by six wickets

A twisting and turning contest between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Chennai Super Kings came down to Ravindra Jadeja facing down Kamlesh Nagarkoti with seven runs needed from the last two balls, in an over that had begun with just ten needed. An ice-cool Jadeja swatted two length balls between long-on and midwicket for two sixes to raise victory for the Super Kings. His unbeaten 31 off 11 balls almost put in the shade a magnificent innings by Ruturaj Gaikwad, who hit 72 off 53 for a second consecutive fifty in IPL 2020.

While the win came too late to help the Super Kings qualify, it has seriously dented the Knight Riders’ chances, who can still make it but will need other results to go their way. However, it also means the Mumbai Indians are now assured of a spot in the playoffs.

The Knight Riders had put up a competitive 172 for 5 driven by an opening batsman’s fifty and a cameo at the end of their own. Nitish Rana began slowly but then finished with a flurry of boundaries to make 87 off 61, but it needed Dinesh Karthik’s 21 not out off ten to push them past 170, which looked like a total that would stretch the Super Kings.

In reply, Gaikwad was all timing and elegance as the Super Kings began solidly. His shot-making, particularly off Lockie Ferguson, was the best on display on the night, even accounting for Jadeja’s finish. Gaikwad’s second-wicket partnership with an aggressive Ambati Rayudu (38 off 20) set the base for the Super Kings to eventually surge over the line despite a wobble. They went from 118 for 1 to 140 for 4, and visions of their earlier defeat to the Knight Riders, when they had failed to chase a similar total from a similar position of strength, would have swirled.

However, in that game, Jadeja had come in at No. 7 and when the chase was much steeper. This time, he came in at No. 6 and had the time to take the game to the finish.

Rana stops, then starts

Shubman Gill continued the free-flowing avatar that he has unlocked in the last couple of games, beginning with a boundary first ball. At the other end, Rana struggled to find the gaps against the pacers, counter-balancing Gill’s aggression with his slow start. Rana was on 6 off 16 at one point inside the powerplay, while Gill was blazing away on 23 off 13, but the introduction of spin in the form of Mitchell Santner unlocked Rana. He hit two fours and a six in the sixth over, to give his innings a bit of a surge.

After the powerplay was done, Rana couldn’t find the boundary as regularly but wasn’t as bogged down as he had been at the start of the innings. The Knight Riders went with the tactic of maximising their chances at the death, and, therefore, kept Eoin Morgan and Dinesh Karthik for the back end of the innings. Consequently, Sunil Narine came out at No. 3 and Rinku Singh – playing his first game of IPL 2020 – at No. 4.

Rana kept going more steadily than in a free-stroking fashion, although he was markedly more aggressive against spinners than pacers.

More to follow

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