IPL: Brilliant Tripathi stuns KKR at Eden Gardens

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Rahul Tripathi missed out on his a maiden T20 century, but his stroke-filled 93 powered Rising Pune Supergiant to a four-wicket win over favourites Kolkata Knight Riders on Wednesday night. After opting to bowl first – given the trend of teams chasing doing well at the Eden Gardens, RPS did well to restrict the hosts to 155-8. The visitors were then piloted by Tripathi’s entertaining innings and chased down the runs in the final over.

The platform for RPS’ chase was set by Tripathi, who absolutely tore into the KKR bowlers. The opening batsman countered fire with fire; Umesh Yadav and Nathan Coulter-Nile ran in hard and bowled aggressively, but Tripathi was equal to the challenge, and treated them with disdain. In the third over, Tripathi collected three fours and a six off Counter-Nile; he pierced one through the off-side, sent one over the extra-cover boundary, then collected boundaries through mid-on and square-leg. In the fourth over, Umesh was at the receiving end as Tripathi collected a six with a hook shot and followed it up with a boundary through point.

Tripathi continued to be brutal on Coulter-Nile as he collected a six and two fours through some audacious hits in the sixth over. RPS had reached 74-2 at the end of six overs – their best-ever powerplay score. 

The opener reached his half-century in the eighth over – needing 23 balls to get to the milestone; it was the quickest half-century by an RPS batsman. Tripathi continued to put the KKR bowlers to the sword even after he got to his half-century; Kuldeep Yadav was hit for three consecutive sixes – first over midwicket, then a huge hit into the stands at long-on, and the final one into the KKR dug out at long-on. The 26-year old had a good opportunity to score his maiden T20 century, but on 93 he muscled a slower-delivery from Chris Woakes, but hit it straight to the man at short midwicket; Tripathi had hit 9 fours and 7 sixes in his 52-ball hit in the middle.

Tripathi was dismissed with RPS needing eight more runs from the final eight deliveries. Daniel Christian then hit the second ball of the final over for a six over midwicket to take his team across the line. The other notable contributions in the run-chase were Rahane’s 11 and Ben Stokes’ 14.

For KKR, Coulter-Nile – who had possibly not recovered completely after being hit on the helmet when he was batting – conceded 41 from his three overs and had a forgettable day in the office. Chris Woakes was the most successful bowler – returning figures of 3 for 18, while Umesh, Narine and Kuldeep chipped in with a wicket each.

Earlier in the evening, smart bowling from RPS meant the home team batsmen were slow off the blocks. The first over was a maiden – in which Jaydev Unadkat also held on to a return catch from Sunil Narine. Sheldon Jackson trod onto his stumps in the fourth over, while Gautam Gambhir – after hitting Washington Sundar for a four and a six off successive deliveries – picked out Rahane on the midwicket boundary in the sixth over. KKR, without the services of Robin Uthappa in this match, had reached 41-3 at the end of the powerplay period.

After Yusuf Pathan was trapped leg before wicket in the tenth over, Manish Pandey and Colin de Grandhomme resurrected the innings with a 45-run partnership. Pandey collected a hat-trick of fours off Shardul Thakur in the eleventh over, while Grandhomme muscled Imran Tahir for consecutive sixes in the twelfth over. That partnership, which threatened to take KKR to a big score, was broken in the fifteenth when Manish (37 from 32 balls, 4 fours, 1 six) picked out the man patrolling the midwicket boundary. de Grandhomme carried on to make 36 before he miscued a change-of-pace delivery from Unadkat and holed out to the man at point on the edge of the circle.

KKR were 120-6 with three overs remaining in the innings when Suryakumar Yadav took charge; the 26-year old – who returned to the KKR XI after missing the last three matches – smashed Daniel Christian for a six in the eighteenth over and then got stuck into Jaydev Unadkat, hitting the left-arm pacer for two fours and a six to help his team finish with a flourish. KKR, 69-2 in the middle overs, had added 45 in the final five, to finish at 155-8.

For RPS, Unadkat had stunning figures of 3-1-7-2 at one stage, before he was taken to the cleaners in the 19th over. The off-spinner Sundar was tidy, returning figures of 2-18 from his two overs, while Ben Stokes, Tahir and Christian chipped in with a wicket each. (IPLT20)

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