Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi and Prasidh Krishna were the three men that turned the tide for Kolkata Knight Riders in their opening encounter versus the Sunrisers Hyderabad. While Rana and Tripathi were instrumental in getting Kolkata to the target that they eventually got (188). Both of them got the fifties (80 and 53 respectively) and set up a great platform for the likes of Andre Russell, Eoin Morgan and Dinesh Karthik to flourish.
While Russell and Morgan failed, Karthik played a good hand, scoring 22 off nine balls to get the scoreboard going.
Prasidh Krishan also outshone other established bowlers like Pat Cummins and Dre Russ in dealing the heaviest blows by picking up two dangerous men in SRH skipper David Warner and big-hitting Mohammad Nabi.
All in all, it was the youngsters who punched above their weight and most certainly turned out to be a better bet than those entrusted with similar roles.
Winning the first game was a good feeling for the KKR skipper Eoin Morgan. The Englishman was overwhelmed by the way the top order batted. “I thought it was magnificent the way the guys batted today at the top of the order. In particularly, Nitish and Tripathi,” he said. “And the bowling too, couldn't have asked for a better start,” he added.
Even after scoring almost 20 runs more than the average first innings score at MA Chidambaram, Morgan’s team didn’t look safe, not at all when Jonny Bairstow started tonking the bowlers. “It was a tight game against a really tough side,” said the 33-year-old.
Stating that there's a huge amount of thought and structure that goes into decisions that are taken on the field, Morgan said, “We've got a great head coach and support staff” which makes the job for him a bit easier.
Saying that the IPL is all about results, Ireland born praised how players have bought into what they are needed for and playing Harbhajan Singh was a prime example of that. “I think guys buying into what we are trying to do. Bhajji starting really well in the first over. And then not bowling at all was a part of the plan,’ he said.
David Warner, the losing skipper for the day thought that his team didn’t quite bowl the way they were expected to. “I didn't think there were that many runs on this wicket,” he said.
Praising the KKr batsman, Warner said that they adapted really well, had a good partnership. “We failed to execute the first ball of most overs and then conceded a lot at the end,” said the 32-year-old.
Losing early wickets was a problem acknowledged well by Warner, but he also appreciated the work done by Englishman Bairstow and Manish Pandey. “We lost early wickets, and Jonny and Manish got us in a good position, so we had our chances.”
While in the first game at Chepauk, Virat Kohli, the RCB skipper complained of the lack of dew and the ball sticking into the wicket because of that. In this game, the SRH skipper was of a different opinion.
“The dew made a difference. If the bowlers overpitched, it was easy to hit it, and with the height in their team, and with the cross-seam, it stopped a little bit on us,’ he said.
“We would like to have won the first game, but we have four more games at this venue and hopefully, we will get used to the square and the dimensions of this ground,” the New South Wales born concluded.
This game turned out to have many talking points and thus the experts’ view was also divided. While some chose to praise KKR youngsters, others pointed out how slow Pandey actually was that he couldn’t win the game for his team. Some others though were awed by the six-hitting abilities of Jammu Kashmir born Abdul Samad.
Ace commentator Harsha Bhogle believed that KKR ticked most boxes today. And it was the youngsters that made the difference.
Ben Jones took the opportunity to speak about how Dinesh Karthi, who played brilliantly today, hitting the likes of Bhuvaneshwar Kumara for 16 runs in the last over.
Boria Majumdar, a cricket and history geek lauded the IPL as a brand for unearthing fearless cricketers which will become a great boost for the nation in future.
Seervi Bharath, proven statistician and journalist of the game went back to stats and prove why SRH’s Pandey was more of an anti-hero than their saviour.
And since we couldn’t get a Wasim Jaffer one-liner to cape off our piece, we got two to compensate. Our very own Mr Witty from the last season Gaurav Kalra and with him the veteran journalist and cricket commentator Ayaz Memon.
In their next matchups, while Hyderabad will take on arch-rivals Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Deccan derby at the same venue on April 14, Knight Riders have five-day rest before they too take on Virat Kohli's men at Chepauk on April 18.