In front of the jam-packed Eden Gardens crowd on the first Sunday of the IPL season 12, home captain Dinesh Karthik won the toss and opted to bowl first. For SRH, Bhuvneshwar Kumar stepped up in the captain’s shoes as their regular skipper Kane Williamson was unfit for the match.
SRH got off to a flying start as the opening pair of David Warner and Jonny Bairstow added a 100-run stand. During the course of their partnership, Warner slammed his 37th IPL fifty announcing his return to the tournament in style. Bairstow played a composed inning of 39 off 35 balls before being castled by Piyush Chawla in the 13th over. A mid-inning slump ensued and Warner walked back after scoring 85 off 53 deliveries thanks to a superb catch by Robin Uthappa off an Andre Russell delivery. However, all-rounder Vijay Shankar’s cameo of 40 off 24 deliveries guided SRH to a strong total of 181/3 in 20 overs.
Chasing 181, KKR were off to a poor start as their swashbuckling opener Chris Lynn walked back to the hut in the 2nd over leaving KKR at 7/1. Uthappa and Nitish Rana then controlled the Knight Riders chase and took the home side to 87/1. Uthappa and Karthik were dismissed in quick succession as the former was castled by Siddarth Kaul while the latter holed out to Bhuvi off a Sandeep Sharma delivery.
The game seemed to be slipping off KKR’s hand but Rana kept them in the hunt with his defiant fifty. The game again swung in SRH’s favour when Rashid Khan dismissed Rana LBW in the 16th over. However, KKR still kept hoping for the best as Dre Russ walked out to bat.
KKR needed 33 runs off 18 deliveries and the Windies giant first smashed 18 runs in the 17th over and then clubbed 21 runs off the penultimate over. The young Indian batsman Shubman Gill then completed an incredible chase by hitting two sixes of Shakib Al Hasan’s final over.
Warner, Shakib and Bairstow helped Bhuvi in the middle
“It was a good game of cricket. Russell can take the game away from you. We were looking to take wickets but didn’t execute our plans. We had enough runs, but defending is not easy. If we had taken wickets, we could have won. It’s all about execution. These sort of games early in the tournament help you. Captaincy was a good experience. Warner, Shakib and Jonny were helping me out. Warner has been outstanding for us and having him back is a good thing for us,” said Bhuvneshwar Kumar during the post-match presentation.