A powerful batting show by Kolkata Knight Riders, led by an Eoin Morgan blitz, put them back on the winning track with a 48-run demolition of Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday (April 14), with Jacques Kallis turning in a fine all-round show in a dominating performance.
On an Eden Gardens pitch that had runs but was expected to play slow and low, both teams added to their spinning options. Kolkata brought in Sachithra Senanayake, the Sri Lanka offspinner, and Hyderabad included Karan Sharma, the legspinner. However, it wasn't the bowlers, but Morgan's 47 off 21 balls made the difference between a competitive but gettable total of around 160, and Kolkata's eventual 180 for 4 after Gautam Gambhir had won the toss and opted to bat. (Match in pics)
Kolkata got off to their best start in the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013, with Manvinder Bisla finally coming good in an opening stand of 59 in 7.4 overs. Gambhir handled the Hyderabad attack with ease, playing shots all around the ground to both pace and spin. When the powerplay overs had yielded 48 for no loss, Kumar Sangakkara, the Hyderabad captain, turned to Amit Mishra, his main spinner. Gambhir was unfazed, welcoming him with two superb shots. He danced down the track off successive deliveries, dispatching one to midwicket and the other to extra cover. (Related read: Gambhir pleased as punch)
Gambhir finally fell in the 14th over, going for an almighty heave off Ashish Reddy, the medium pacer, and losing his stumps after connecting only with air to go for 53 off 45. That brought Morgan to the crease, with Kolkata 102 for 2 in 13.4 overs. Morgan's first eight balls included five from Dale Steyn and fetched him only six runs. However, that's all it took to get his eye in and then explode. Mishra was taken for 13 runs in 16th over, and Thisara Perera was completely dismantled in the 18th, disappearing for 22 runs. Perera had succeeded in reining in the scoring by slowing down the pace to Gambhir, but Morgan simply dispatched him straight, wide and square with timing and power. He fell in the only way that seemed possible, run-out when Kallis called him through for a tight single in the penultimate over. Kallis himself had played a good supporting role, with classical shots after an initial settling down period, ending with 41 off 27. He would later add figures of 3 for 13 in four overs, to complete a fine day. (Also read: Stats from the match)
They Hyderabad bowling was their stronger suit by a distance, and when that had failed, the batsmen were left with a mountain to climb. Hyderabad had a new opening pair in Cameron White and Parthiv Patel, and though both put on a 57-run stand before Patel fell, they consumed nine overs, a pace that put considerable pressure on the batsmen to follow.
The sluggish nature of the pitch, which Morgan seemed to have taken out of the equation, was more evident when Hyderabad batted. White was brilliantly taken at the long on fence, when a leaping Yusuf Pathan timed his jump well to intercept the ball. When Sangakkara fell in the following over to another good catch, this time by Manoj Tiwary, Hyderabad were in deep trouble at 71 for 3 in 11.1 overs, requiring 110 in 53 balls.
Though Perera (36 off 25) hit out, enjoying a life when Morgan was unable to complete a catch at long on after losing the ball in the glare of the floodlights off Sunil Narine, he had too much to do in too little time, and Hyderabad only ended up at 132 for 7.
Kolkata had re-asserted how impressive they could be on their day, especially at home.