Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) stunned Mumbai Indians (MI) by seven wickets in match 34 of IPL 2021 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Bowling first after winning the toss, KKR restricted the defending champions to 155 for 6. Except for Quinton de Kock (55), no other MI batter could make much of an impression in the game. For KKR, Lockie Ferguson and Prasidh Krishna picked up two wickets each while Sunil Narine was economical with 1 for 20. In response, KKR raced home to victory courtesy Venkatesh Iyer (53 off 30) and Rahul Tripathi (74 not out off 42). Kolkata raced past victory in 15.1 overs. Here are three unexpected things that happened during the match.
- Nitish Rana bowling the first over of the match
After KKR won the toss, fans would have expected someone like leggie Varun Chakravarthy or a pacer like Prasidh Krishna to open the bowling for the Kolkata franchise. Instead, it was part-time off-spinner Nitish Rana, who was given the task, leaving most cricket pundits puzzled. Rana did not get KKR off to a great start. The first ball he bowled was fullish in length outside the off stump. MI skipper Rohit Sharma hit the ball with the middle of the bat and got it past mid-off for a boundary.
Rana ended up conceding only five runs in the over but could not build any pressure. Whatever the logic behind the move, the tactic did not work. MI eased their way to 56 without loss at the end of the powerplay overs. For the record, Rana has 28 wickets to his name from 125 T20s at a strike rate of 18.20. But he is obviously more renowned for his batting.
2. MI’s boundary-less spell with the bat
Mumbai Indians are known as big strikers of the ball and most of them are adept at finding boundaries as well. MI began well in the first eight overs of their innings, finding the boundaries at regular intervals. In fact, the franchise began the ninth over with Quinton de Kock striking Andre Russell for consecutive fours. The next boundary for MI came directly in the 14th over. De Kock broke the boundary-less spell, smashing Lockie Ferguson over midwicket for a boundary. The shot also brought up the hundred for MI.
In between, MI lost their skipper Rohit Sharma for 33. The right-handed batter fell to Sunil Narine, his attempted big hit ending in the hands of a fielder at the boundary. Suryakumar Yadav’s poor run continued as he perished to Prasidh Krishna for 5. The MI batter tried to flick one across the line but only managed to present a leading edge to Dinesh Karthik, who accepted the offering gleefully
3. MI’s pacers taking a hammering from KKR openers
MI’s pacers are not known to take a hammering from opposition batsmen, at least not from KKR batters, a team against which they had a 22-6 win-loss record at the start of Thursday’s match. In a chase of 156, KKR raced to 30 for no loss at the end of the first two overs. Shubman Gill and Venkatesh Iyer got a six each off Trent Boult in the first over, which set the tone of the innings. The second over bowled by Adam Milne went for 15 as Iyer slammed one six and two fours and raced away to 22 in seven balls.
Even Jasprit Bumrah was welcomed with a boundary each from the KKR openers. Although Gill fell for 13, the foundation had been laid. KKR raced to 63 for 1 at the end of the powerplay overs. Iyer was joined the Rahul Tripathi and the two went on to smash cracking fifties to keep MI on the back foot right through the chase. It wasn’t surprising that KKR cantered home to victory in the chase.