Shubman Gill has been making the right kind of noise in the domestic cricket since his advent in the Under-19 World Cup couple of years ago. His induction into the IPL expectedly came with a lot of razzmatazz because of this. However, playing down the order often meant fans seldom got to see the best of him.
However, with skipper Dinesh Karthik promoting him to the opening slot for the IPL 2020 has unleashed the beast out of him as the right-hander guided KKR to a comfortable seven-wicket win over former champions Sunrisers Hyderabad in Dubai on Saturday. Shubman (70 runs off 63 balls) stitched an unbeaten stand of 92 runs with Eoin Morgan, who remained 42 not out, to ensure KKR leave the blues of heavy defeat against Mumbai Indians behind them.
Asked to chase 142 after some splendid bowling from the likes of Pat Cummins and Varun Chakravarthy, KKR were off to worst start as their hard-hitting opener Sunil Narine departed for nought after slogging Khaleel Ahmed direct to SRH skipper David Warner in the second over. The run flow didn’t stop with his departure as next in at no. 3 Nitish Rana took over the run-scoring load. Rana and opener Shubman Gill quickly scored 26 runs in the next two overs as KKR chase gained pace.
This forced Warner to bring left-arm pacer T Natarajan to the attack and it paid dividend as Rana (26 off 13) nicked the ball to Wriddhiman behind the stump, prompting KKR skipper DK to join the game at 43/2.
Karthik (0 off 3) too followed Rana back to pavilion eight balls later after Rashid Khan’s quicker deceived the right-hander at the beginning of seventh over.
However, with Shubman still in the middle and the best of KKR pinch-hitters were yet to come meant the game was out of SRH’s hands. Shubman, along with no. 5 Eoin Morgan, saw out the initial threat from Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi and accelerated the innings at the right time to take the game away from SRH.
Earlier in the first innings, KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik finally made a wise choice of giving the new ball to Sunil Narine and Pat Cummins unlike last game against MI when he backed Sandeep Warrier & Shivam Mavi with the role only to see them fail miserably.
The move reaped the benefit as the overseas duo gave no room to Jonny Bairstow to open his arms and the in-form English opener was soon bowled out by Cummins for meagre 5 off 15 at the end of fourth over with 24 runs on board.
David Warner, along with no.3 Manish Pandey, tried to revive the Sunrisers innings by steadily increasing the run-rate. However, the 35-run stand came to an end in the 10th over with Varun Chakravarthy caught and bowled the SRH skipper for 36 (off 30) to leave the side in a spot of bother. Varun, who was picked in the game for Nikhil Naik, justified his selection with an economical spell of 25/1.
But that didn’t deter the intentions of Indian middle-order pair Manish and No.4 Wriddhiman Saha, who took the side to a respectable total on a tricky surface as they added … for the third wicket.
Manish, who was feeling comfortable after spending considerable time in the middle, slammed three boundaries and two sixes to reach his half-century in the 17th over as SRH stuttered to 118 runs by the end of Patt Cummins spell. To the credit of KKR bowlers, they never let any SRH batsman get comfortable in the middle and that reflected on the scorecard. Cummins was certainly thepick among the bowlers as he lived up to his expensive Rs 14.5 crore price tag by giving away just 19 runs for a wicket.
However, breaking the stand took a special effort as DK introduced Andre Russell to the bowling for the first time in the 18th over. The Trinidadian bowled a sharp 140-plus full toss; taking Manish by surprise as he could only block it straight into the hands of Russell as refreshed SRH score read 121/3.
This turned out to be the deathly blow for the Hyderabadis as Russell gave away just 17 runs in his two overs, and was aptly supported by Kamlesh Nagarkoti from the other end, to halt SRH progress at 142/4. Wriddhiman (30 off 31) was last SRH wicket to fall as he was run out by Cummins while taking a risky double.