IPL 2021: Resurgent Knights topple weak Kings
Eoin Morgan’s tendency to bowl first whenever he wins the toss made him do the same on a two-paced, tricky Motera wicket as well on Monday. But on this occasion, the strategies fell into place, bowlers remained disciplined right through and opposition players played some injudicious strokes.
The combination of all these helped Kolkata Knight Riders, going unchanged in the game, to finally snap their losing streak and beat Punjab Kings comfortably by five wickets with 20 balls to spare.
KKR’s struggling top order though continues to be a cause for concern. They had to chase down just a 124-run target, yet matters became interesting when Punjab bowlers had them wobbling at 17/3 after three overs.
Nitish Rana gave catching practice at cover even when Moises Henriques gifted him with a full toss in the very first over of KKR’s reply. Shubman Gill’s technical flaws were exposed again when he was trapped LBW by Mohammed Shami, while Ravi Bishnoi took a blinder at the deep that sent Sunil Narine back.
Fortunately for KKR, the conditions had become tougher for bowlers in the second half and Rahul Tripathi (41) and captain Eoin Morgan made perfect use of them to stitch a 66-run partnership that took them to safety. It turned out to be a captain’s knock from Morgan (47 not out off 40 balls).
Among KKR’s bowlers, Prasidh Krishna struck thrice, Narine snared two and Pat Cummins took the vital scalp of rival captain KL Rahul to also finish with two wickets. They kept Punjab’s total to a paltry 123/9.
But the actual credit needs to go to young pacer Shivam Mavi for being brilliantly economical (4-0-13-1). It was Mavi’s spell that never allowed Punjab’s strong opening duo of Rahul and Mayank Agarwal to break free. After the Powerplay, Punjab were only 37/1, primarily due to Mavi’s tight bowling.
Not trying to do anything special or extravagant, the young quick concentrated on bringing the ball back into the batsmen, who also looked somewhat confused when the odd one kept low. Skipper Morgan too made a smart move by letting Mavi finish his quota in one spell itself, which ensured his rhythm remained unaffected.