After winning the toss, Sunrisers Hyderabad failed at everything, starting with their bowling performance, letting KKR off the hook, conceding 187 in Chennai. For SRH, despite Manish Pandey and Jonny Bairstow propelling the strike rate, it wasn’t enough to beat KKR in their IPL 2021 opener.
Match report in a Tweet
Not only did Nitish Rana power KKR to an above-par start in the powerplay but he ensured that they scored 187 on a sluggish Chennai wicket. Though SRH, through Bairstow and Pandey, tried to slog it out, they succumbed to a 10-run loss.
Where KKR won the game
KKR won the game in the powerplay, not with the bat but with the ball, something that comes as a surprise to the regular watchers. Last year, KKR were terrible in the powerplay, where they really left Pat Cummins with all the work in the first six overs. However, with Harbhajan, Shakib and Prasidh Krishna, they turned things around, with twin wickets in the first three overs, which led to their victory.
SRH put the wrong egg in the powerplay basket
While they missed Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s services last year, this year SRH have both Bhuvneshwar and Sandeep Sharma, two bowlers who have picked the most of their wickets in the powerplay. But let’s get this straight, pairing them in Chennai, on a Chepauk wicket where they were bowling slower deliveries in the second over - really takes away the point of playing Sandeep, who is considered as a fine powerplay bowler. In today’s game, he was anything but a specialist, especially with the way Nitish Rana was calling shots against him, manipulating the bowler to bowl to his strengths. To put things into perspective, at the venue, the right-arm seamer has played three games, picking up the solitary wicket, conceding 11.08 RPO and at an average of 109, which in no way suggests that he should be a starter, even after his exploits in the 2020 edition of the IPL. Given that Sunrisers decided to field Nabi, who primarily has picked up his wickets in the powerplay, having Sandeep in the team wasn’t reasonable.
KKR’s instinctive trust in Nitish Rana and the flowing results
If there was one lesson from last year’s IPL, it is to never trust KKR and their plans, which seemingly fell flat on their face. But a new year prompted something never expected, a change in intent at the top of the order. While Shubman Gill carried on his form from last year, taking it slow, there was Nitish Rana at the other end, who launched an assault, never seen before from the southpaw. KKR had the worst powerplay stats (40.5 runs) last season but not anymore, with a clear plan this time around, they got off the box quickly, scoring 50 runs in the powerplay. What’s more interesting was Rana’s attacking nature, where the southpaw really took on the slower deliveries from the Men in Orange and converted that into pacy boundaries. While he finished the last season as a prime contender for the opener, he has sealed the debate ultimately for the season, with his 56-ball 80.
Introduction of Varun Chakravarthy
As movies often show, the entry point of the hero coincides with the sidekick of the heroes being dumped out of the scene. But in this encounter, the hero or Varun Chakravarthy’s entry point with the ball was rather curious. On a pitch where playing spin was tougher than facing the seamers, KKR’s rather dubious decision to hand the ball to the duo of Andre Russell and Pat Cummins post the powerplay was appalling. Last season, as well witnessed, Varun looked like a solution to every one of Kolkata’s problems but this season? In just the first game, Morgan took nine overs, some real drubbing from the hands of Englishman Jonny Bairstow and Manish Pandey before throwing the ball to the Mystery spinner. And from there on, with a set Bairstow and Pandey, the game really got away from the Knight Riders, especially with their bowling suffering at the hands of the Sunrisers pair, two overs too late.
SRH are right in backing Bairstow over Williamson
Let’s get to the fun part, SRH picking Jonny Bairstow over Kane Williamson really triggered the major section of the Twitter world but were SRH wrong? Absolutely not, for starters, SRH really made the right move, selecting Bairstow over Williamson, ask why?
STATS time: In 2021, Williamson has played five games for New Zealand, scoring 82 runs at an average of 16.4 with a sub-par strike rate of 122.4, scoring just eight boundaries. On the other hand, there is Bairstow, who has scored 118 runs, averaging 39.3 at a strike rate of 137.2. Not just on the basis of recency but on the basis of their last year scores, middle-overs is one segment where they really struggled. For England, Bairstow was the bright spot, not just in the T20I series but also the ODI series.
So for that reason and all the reasons of fielding Mohammad Nabi, on turning tracks, in both Chennai and Delhi, SRH did the right decision of backing Bairstow, as they dropped him last year to field Jason Holder.
The MVP - Nitish Rana
Hats off to Nitish Rana, KKR not only overcame a lost toss but also put on an above-average total in the powerplay, where they scored 50 runs. It didn’t end there, the left-hander, who scored a couple of eighties last year, against CSK and DC, continued his golden form from there, scoring yet another eighty in the tournament. But what was more important, was the way he approached the innings, which allowed the likes of Rahul Tripathi and Dinesh Karthik to be their expressive self, in KKR’s ballistic batting approach. 80 off 56 balls, against one of the best bowling attacks in the tournament, Nitish Rana is certainly the man of the match.
Match Frenzy O Meter - Bat-istic
This game was totally tilted towards the batsmen, as the KKR batsmen proved from time to time in the first innings. A very unlikely Chepauk wicket, where the batsmen really enjoyed their outing where runs were on offer at every nook and corner. It didn’t stop there in the first innings as the second innings picked pace from the first, where Jonny Bairstow and Manish Pandey took over the scoring rate. On top of that, Abdul Samad's cameo really turned the screw around before Russell sealed the deal.