Salt assault helps KKR roll over LSG

Phil Salt was in red hot form against LSG (Photo: Debasis Sen/RevSportz)

Lucknow Super Giants’ total of 161-7 was below par. Kolkata Knight Riders went on the attack mode right from the outset in their chase. LSG bowled too many boundary balls and their fielding was sloppy. The result was a resounding KKR win by eight wickets with 26 balls to spare (162/2 in 15.4 overs). For the first time in the IPL, KKR beat LSG. This is how things transpired at Eden Gardens…

Moderate powerplay for LSG

Quinton de Kock took back-to-back fours off Mitchell Starc in the first two balls of the match. Vaibhav Arora started off with a wide followed by a no-ball. The pitch was good with a bit of extra bounce and the stage was set for LSG to make the powerplay count.

But KKR came back well. De Kock slashed at one from Arora without moving his feet and the thick outside edge went to short third. Deepak Hooda, in for Devdutt Padikkal, came at No. 3 but never looked comfortable. A diving catch from Ramandeep Singh at backward point off Starc put him out of his misery. LSG’s struggles at the No. 3 slot continued.

KL Rahul was waiting for opportunities to score. When Arora bowled in the slot, the LSG skipper hit over covers for a six. When Starc bowled short, he unleashed a pull for a four. Rahul was maintaining a decent strike-rate without taking the game to the opposition. At the end of the powerplay, he was on 23 off 13 balls, while his team had moved to 49-2.

Rahul fails to make a statement

Rahul’s innings was neither here nor there. Once he slowed down after powerplay, the dismissal appeared to be on the cards. In the next four overs, LSG scored only 23 runs. Just one boundary was hit during that period.

Rahul is a good player of spin, but the intent was seemingly missing. Sunil Narine bowled his first two overs at an economy rate of less than five. Eventually, after Andre Russell was brought into the attack, Rahul decided to up the ante.

An upper-cut gave him a six over deep point but he perished next ball. It was a hit-me delivery, short and innocuous. Rahul swung at it but picked deep mid-wicket. He made 39 off 27 balls. This sort of innings is not going to take him to the T20 World Cup.

Narine remains Knights’ MVB

‘Strac is a star’ — a fan raised the poster after the left-arm quick dismissed Nicholas Pooran (45, 32 balls) via a thin edge to Phil Salt behind the stumps. Strac recovered from an expensive first over to return 3-28 from four. Varun Chakravarthy gave away just 30 in his four overs for the wicket of the dangerous-looking Marcus Stoinis. It was an all-round bowling effort from KKR on a good batting pitch. But Narine was their standout performer.

Figures of 1-17 from four overs attested a fantastic effort. He sapped the momentum out of LSG’s batting and ensured that the visitors finished significantly below par. It remains a mystery why even after so many years batters in the IPL have failed to unlock the Narine secret. From KKR’s perspective though, he remains their MVB — ‘Most Valuable Bowler’.

Shamar makes his IPL debut

Before this match, there was an on-field huddle, where the 24-year-old fast bowler received his LSG cap. Life has changed dramatically for Joseph. Only three years ago, he was working as a security guard. Over the last few months, he made his Test debut for the West Indies, then there was the Gabba and on Sunday, he played his maiden IPL game.

Things didn’t go to plan though. He opened the bowling but was wayward. His first over that had two no-balls and as many wides, accounted for 22 runs. One of the wide balls went for a four. One of the no-balls had a dropped catch off it. Joseph was removed from the attack.

When he was brought back after some time, he conceded five runs in his second over. In the third, Joseph thought he had Shreyas Iyer but DRS overturned the on-field decision. Then, he should have had Phil Salt, but Arshad Khan dropped a sitter at deep square-leg. Luck played peek-a-boo with the debutant who bowled with a smile.

Salt makes it easy for KKR

As the KKR opener reached a 26-ball half-century, Shah Rukh Khan, the franchise co-owner, clapped cheerfully in his smart seats. Coming to the team late, as Jason Roy’s replacement, Salt is proving to be value for money (Rs 1.5 crore) for his team.

Chasing a modest target, KKR needed one of their top-order batters to bat long and score quick. Salt’s 47-ball 89 not out served the purpose. Yes, there was a dropped catch. Also, a couple of inside edges shaved the stumps. In the end, however, Salt’s innings and his unbroken 120-run third wicket partnership with Shreyas Iyer (38 not out, 38 balls) did the job.

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