Andre Russell's clinical all-round performance (49 not out and 3/22) led Kolkata Knight Riders to a convincing 54-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 61st match of the IPL 2022 at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, here on Saturday.With this win, KKR jumped to the 6th spot, gave a huge boost to their net run rate and kept alive their chances of making the play-offs while SRH slipped to the 8th spot after suffering their fifth straight loss.Fighting knocks by Andre Russell and Sam Billings (34 off 29) guided Kolkata Knight Riders to 177/6 in 20 overs. Winning the toss and opting to bat first, KKR were struggling for 94-5 after 11.3 overs but Russell and Billings stitched a partnership of 63 runs for the sixth wicket and ensured their team had a solid total on the board.Apart from Russell and Billings, Ajinkya Rahane (28 off 24) and Nitish Rana (26 off 16) also made vital contributions with the bat for KKR.
Chasing a challenging total, SRH skipper Kane Williamson once again struggled to get going and eventually got out to Russell for 9 off 17 deliveries. Despite Abhishek Sharma's aggressive intent, KKR managed to score just 31/1 in the powerplay.With the required rate going up, Abhishek smashed Sunil Narine for 17 runs. But, he didn't get much support from Rahul Tripathi (9), who got out to Tim Southee courtesy of a stunning catch in his followthrough. Aiden Markram, who came to bat next, resisted KKR's attack with a handy 25-ball 32. But, Varun Chakravarthy removed the solid-looking Abhishek Sharma (43 off 28 balls) to dent SRH's hopes even further.Nicholas Pooran also couldn't do anything and fell for 2 to Narine and Markram's wicket in the 15th over ended Hyderabad's hopes. Shashank Singh got an 11 but it was not enough as SRH were restricted to 123/8 in 20 overs.Andre Russell (3/22) was the most successful bowler for KKR while the likes of Tim Southee (2/23), Umesh Yadav (1/19), and Varun Chakravarthy (1/25), Sunil Narine (1/34) also picked crucial wickets at regular intervals.
Earlier, KKR got off to a shaky start as they lost their opener Venkatesh Iyer (7) in the last delivery of the second over. Marco Jansen bowled a length ball outside off and the left-hander wanted to play it towards point but he chopped the delivery back onto the stumps.Another left-hander Nitish Rana then joined senior pro Ajinkya Rahane in the middle. Rana took some time to adjust to the conditions in Pune before smashing T. Natarajan for 18 runs in his over. On the other hand, Rahane too struck some boundaries as KKR reached 55-1 at the end of the powerplay.Both Rahane and Rana were going strong and it seemed that they had put KKR back on the track with their 48-run stand before Umran Malik changed the momentum in SRH's favour.
Bowling his first over, Malik dismissed a well-set Rana (26 off 16), who chipped the ball on the on-side and Shashank Singh covered a good distance from the fine-leg to complete the catch. Skipper Shreyas Iyer walked in to bat and struck a boundary on his first ball but Rahane got out on the final delivery of the eighth over, leaving KKR to 72-3.Washington Sundar then bowled an economical over to maintain the pressure on KKR. Malik continued his domination with the ball and in his second over he got rid of Shreyas (15), who tried to flick a ball coming on his pads but found Rahul Tripathi at mid-wicket.Soon after, Natarajan trapped Rinku Singh in front of the wicket with a deadly yorker, putting Kolkata under tremendous pressure. But Russell and Billings led KKR's fightback.
The duo took the cautious approach for the next few overs and at the same time also hit boundaries whenever they got bad deliveries, taking KKR to 119/5 after 15 overs.With five overs to go, both Russell and Billings decided to free their arms, scoring 10, 13 and 9 respectively in the next three overs. However, Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled an excellent 19th over, where he conceded just six runs and took the wicket of Billings. The decision to bowl Washington Sundar in the last over of the innings backfired for SRH as Russell hit the off-spinner for three sixes and helped KKR finish on 177/6.Umran Malik (3/33) was the most successful bowler for SRH while Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/27), Marco Jansen (1/30) and T. Natarajan also chipped in with one wicket each.
Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 177/6 in 20 overs (Andre Russell 49 not out, Sam Billings 34; Umran Malik 3/33) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 123/8 in 20 overs (Abhishek Sharma 43, Aiden Markram 32; Andre Russell 3/22) by 54 runs.