The opener’s 80 and No. 3’s 53 pilot Morgan’s men to 187, a total that proved beyond the reach of Sunrisers Hyderabad despite Bairstow and Pandey’s efforts
Nitish Rana had to endure a tough start to the 14th edition of the IPL after he tested positive for COVID-19 late last month. But on Sunday, the left-hander showed he had shrugged off the setback by scoring a brilliant 80 (56b, 9×4, 4×6) to set up Kolkata Knight Riders’ 10-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad at the M.A Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.
Along with Rahul Tripathi, who came up with a quickfire 53 (29b, 5×4, 2×6), Rana added 93 for the second wicket to help Morgan’s men post 187 for six.
Surnisers’ chase started poorly as it lost openers David Warner and Wriddhiman Saha cheaply. Jonny Bairstow, coming in at No. 4, resurrected the innings in the company of Manish Pandey with a 40-ball 55. The England player got going with a six off Shakib Al Hasan over extra-cover before wading into Andre Russell, the West Indian going for 15 in one over.
As long as Bairstow and Pandey were in the middle, Sunrisers were in the hunt. However, Eoin Morgan’s punt to use Pat Cummins to break the 92-run third-wicket partnership worked as the Aussie pacer removed Bairstow, having him caught at point.
Despite Pandey’s valiant unbeaten half-century (61 n.o., 43b, 2×4, 3×6), the asking rate climbed too steeply, exposing Sunrisers’ hitting ability in the middle-order.
Earlier, asked to bat, KKR began strongly, with Rana slamming a series of boundaries through the covers, both along the ground and over the in-field. He went after Sandeep Sharma, smashing the medium-pacer for three consecutive fours in the fourth over, two through the off-side and one over fine-leg. With Shubman Gill in tow, KKR raced to 50 from the PowerPlay overs before Rashid Khan gave Sunrisers the breakthrough, removing Gill. Rana and Tripathi ensured that the momentum was not lost, as they kept finding the fence with ease. KKR accumulated 95 runs between overs seven and 15.
The right-handed Tripathi took on Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the 15th over, lofting the Indian pacer for a six over square-leg and hitting two fours behind point, to bring up his fifty off just 28 balls.
Sunrisers did pull things back in the last five overs by getting four wicket, but it was not enough in the end.