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The Hindu

IPL 2022: KKR vs SRH | Russell keeps Knight Riders’ campaign alive

Kolkata Knight Riders kept its Indian Premier League campaign alive with a convincing win against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the last of the 13 ties at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium on Saturday night.

Riding on Andre Russell’s late charge following a resurrecting association of 63 runs for the sixth wicket with Sam Billings, the Knight Riders - in a must-win game to give itself an outside chance of making the Playoffs - posted a challenging total of 177 for six.

On a surface where the last six games had gone in favour of the side batting first and against a team that has been wobbly to say the least, that total turned out to be more than enough. Sunrisers Hyderabad’s chase never really took off as the Knight Riders bowlers ensured the batters’ good work didn’t go waste to register a 54-run win.

KKR captain Shreyas Iyer used Russell in the PowerPlay with the ball and the allrounder ended a struggling Kane Williamson’s misery. The spin twins of Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy had delivered in the middle overs and Tim Southee dismissed Rahul Tripathi with an amazing return catch.

Russell then came back at the death to increase his wicket-tally. But it was his effort with the willow that actually tilted the game in KKR’s favour. When he joined Billings at the crease, KKR was in trouble at 94 for five in the 12th over.

Speed merchant Umran Malik - having conceded 125 runs for no wicket in his 10 overs in the last three games - had regained his wicket-taking avatar in style, clocking 150 kph consistently. While T. Natarajan - who suffered Nitish Rana’s wrath in his first over - had dismissed Rinku Singh on his comeback.

Sensing Russell’s love-affair with offspinners, SRH was forced to delay Washington Sundar’s last over. Russell and Billings waited patiently for it, creaming pacers through gaps while playing percentage cricket.

While Billings bid Umran a farewell with successive fours in the pacer’s last over, the 16th, Russell started opening up the shoulders with two fours off accurate Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the next.

Billings then perished in a bid to up the ante in the penultimate over. Russell waited patiently for Washington’s over without taking undue risks. And the burly Caribbean made optimum of three full-tosses Washington offered to him under pressure in the last over that fetched 20 runs.

Those runs were pivotal for the Knight Riders to improve its Net Run Rate. The Sunrisers, on the other hand, isn’t yet technically out of contention but the NRR damage in its fifth consecutive loss could well serve a death-blow to its campaign with two games remaining.

Brief Score:

Kolkata Knight Riders: 177 for 6 in 20 overs (Andre Russell 49 not out; Umran Malik 3/33).

Sunrisers Hyderabad: 123 for 8 in 20 overs (Abhishek Sharma 43; Andre Russell 3/22).

Teams:

Sunrisers Hyderabad: Abhishek Sharma, Kane Williamson(c), Rahul Tripathi, Aiden Markram, Nicholas Pooran(w), Shashank Singh, Washington Sundar, Marco Jansen, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, T Natarajan, Umran Malik.

Kolkata Knight Riders: Venkatesh Iyer, Ajinkya Rahane, Nitish Rana, Shreyas Iyer(c), Sam Billings(w), Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee, Varun Chakaravarthy.