Afghanistan recruit Andy Flower as consultant for World T20 2021
9 Oct 2021
It was smooth sailing for the Kolkata Knight riders for the most part of the second Qualifier against Delhi capitals in Indian Premier League 2021, only that before Rahul Tripathi hit a six on the fifth ball of the 20th over to win it in style, the team from Kolkata had played 22 balls and scored only seven runs, losing four wickets at the same time. It was a phase of the game that could be well described as ‘total brain fade from KKR batters’.
From needing 13 to win from 25 balls with nine wickets in hand, KKR went to six needed from two balls with only three wickets in hand and had it not been for Tripathi, they might have lost in a manner which would have been discussed for years to come.
Well, that didn’t happen, but what would be discussed is the performances of the players, both who were a hit in this game as well as those who turned out to be a flop in the section called Hits and Flops.
Iyer was in his full flow today as he has been throughout his second league in the nine matches he has played. But today’s knock was extra special in the sense that there was purpose in the way he was playing, it looked like he meant business and wasn’t going to throw away his wicket.
For his 55 off 41 balls, which saw him hit four fours and three sixes, the Madhya Pradesh man was given the Player of the Match award as well. It was during that post-match presentation ceremony that Iyer revealed that he was hell-bent on sticking at the wicket and getting the much-needed win.
In the presentation interview, when Harsha Bhogle mentioned him being selected as a net bowler for Team India’s T20 World Cup squad, Iyer said that while it is good news, he was truly focused on winning this game and will remain so till the final on Friday, giving a glance into how his mind works.
The partnership between him and Shubman Gill of 96 for the first wicket was the real reason how KKR managed to driveway all demons of the pitch, which looked like minefield fro Delhi batters in the first innings and later on even fro KKR batters past the opening pair.
While Sunil Narine did for Kolkata in the Eliminator with both bat and ball and Shakib hit the winning runs, it was the turn of the third musketeer in the spin trio of the Knight Riders. Varun Chakravarthy, who is also KKR’s leading wicket-taker this season, was in his usual touch and picked two crucial wickets to break Delhi’s hopes of reaching a competitive total.
The mystery spinner first got rid of Prithvi Shaw who was timing the ball really well and then also removed Shikhar Dhawan, just as he was about to let loose, having played 39 balls. In his four overs, the Tamil Nadu bowler gave way only 26 runs with an economy of just above six.
Rishabh Pant missed the trick in the last game by not bowling Rabada on the final over. But in this game, he was not going to let this happen. The Proteas bowler was called in the 13th over first after his futile first two pavers which resulted in no wickets and 17 runs. But in this over he broke the opening stand and removed Iyer.
Then once again, after two quiet overs by Anrich Nortje and AveshKhan, Rabad was called in to bowl the 18th over and put pressure on KKR batters, and boy did the 26 years old doit? By giving away just one run and also picking up the wicket of experienced Dinesh Karthik, he gave his team the much-needed boost to try and defend 9 off the last two overs. Rabada finished his spell with figures of 2-23 from four overs.
If you do it once, it’s a mistake but if you do it twice and in two crucial games, that means you are not learning from your mistakes and not improving one bit. And that seems to be the case with Nitish Rana as well.
In the last game, when KKR were cruising to a win, Rana played a lofted shot, got out and put the team under pressure. But that pressure was handled as experienced heads like Shakib and Morgan finished the game.
In this game, when the team is needing way less than run a ball, what possible reasons could a batsman, who has played for India and has been part of the IPL for the last eight years, chose to balloon the ball up and go for a glory shot, which was not at all asked for. This attitude might sink the Knight Riders’ boat as they might not get a second chance in the final.
The Aussie all-rounder was called in place of Tom Curran. Curran did go for runs in the last game no doubt, but pushing Stonis up, even as he couldn’t bowl, instead of playing Steve Smith was a fatal decision. It didn’t work out as the Western Australian player got out for 18 off 23 balls and wasn’t able to perform as per expectations whatsoever.
The fact that he couldn’t even use his feet, struggling to play even Shivam Mavi was totally humiliating for a batsman of his stature. It was due to him and Dhawan piling up dot balls that the rest of the Delhi batting lineup came under pressure.
Rahul Tripathi might not fit in the Hits column, but he definitely wasn’t a flop either, hence he is in a special section. Playing four dot balls straightway in the 18th over, just as he came on the crease, it looked not very likely at all that he would win the game for the Knight Riders.
But as they say, it’s not over till it. So it was exactly like, ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’ as Tripathi rocked to the back foot and hit the fifth ball of the 20th over, which was just short of length and deposited it out of the ground to win a thriller and etch his name in the minds of many KKR fans and fellow players.
Courtesy of this win at Sharjah, the Knight Riders have now made it to their first-ever IPL final in seven years and will face Chennai Super Kings at Dubai.