Rookie batsman Rahul Tripathi played a breathtaking knock of 93 to single-handedly take Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) to a four-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the Indian Premier League at Eden Gardens on Wednesday. The Pune bowlers put up a disciplined effort to limit KKR to 155 for eight before Tripathi fashioned his team's win with a 52-ball blinder. The visiting team got home with four balls to spare with Tripathi missing out on a well deserved hundred.
The pick of the Pune bowlers was Jaydev Unadkat, who ended with figures of 2 for 28 after bowling a wicket-maiden in the first over of the game. It was a sixth win in seven matches for Pune, who have moved up to third place in the points table and closer to a Play-off berth with 14 points from 11 matches. With their second straight loss, KKR remain second in the table with 14 points from 11 matches.
It was all Tripathi in the chase as he stood out in Pune's star-studded batting line-up. His sensational innings was studded with seven sixes, three off them coming in succession off chinaman Kuldeep Yadav in the 13th over to reduce the equation to 26 off the last 42 balls. He also struck nine fours. He however could not stay till the end as he pulled one straight to mid-wicket in the penultimate over with six runs needed to win. Daniel Christian then sealed the win with a six off Colin de Grandhomme.
Born in Ranchi and raised in Maharashtra, the 26-year-old Tripathi, who made IPL debut this season, showed fine composure as he held on despite wickets falling around him -- Ajinkya Rahane (11), Steve Smith (9), Manoj Tiwary (8), last match's hero Ben Stokes (14) and MS Dhoni (5).
That Tripathi has a higher strike-rate than the likes of David Warner, Brendon McCullum, Jos Buttler, Kieron Pollard, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle this season sums up his performance of the youngster who was bought at a base price of Rs 10 lakh at the IPL auction.
Earlier, Rising Pune Supergiant dished out a tidy bowling performance to restrict KKR to a modest total. Put in to bat, KKR found the going tough at their backyard and suffered their worst start of the season to be struggling at 55 for four inside 10 overs. The duo of Manish Pandey (37 off 32) and Colin de Grandhomme (36 off 19) revived KKR innings with a 48-run fifth wicket partnership off 30 balls.
Unadkat returned with excellent figures of 4-1-28-2, while 17-year-old Washington Sundar too was impressive in his 2/18 from two overs
It was thanks to Suryakumar Yadav, who was playing in place of an injured Robin Uthappa, KKR were able to cross the 150-run mark after the aggressive batsman smashed 30 off 16 balls.