KOLKATA: An explosive half-century from Rahmanullah Gurbaz and an entertaining cameo by birthday boy Andre Russell powered Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to a competitive 179/7 against Gujarat Titans (GT) in their Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 match at Eden Gardens here on Saturday.
Put to bat first by GT, KKR was off to a shaky start. After Narayan Jagadeesan smashed skipper Hardik Pandya for three boundaries in the second over, Mohammed Shami trapped him leg-before-wicket for 19 (15 balls) that included four boundaries. KKR were 23/1 at this point.
Shardul Thakur came to bat at number three, with KKR looking to up the attack. Rahmanullah Gurbaz unleashed some heavy hits on GT from the other side, smashing Pandya for two sixes and Shami for a six and four. However, the move to send Shardul at the top backfired as he was caught by Mohit Sharma at mid-on for a duck. Shami got his second wicket. KKR were 47/2 in five overs.
With the help of a six from Gurbaz, KKR reached the 50-run mark in 5.3 overs.
Gurbaz continued his carnage, reaching the second half-century of his IPL career in just 27 balls. His knock had four fours and four sixes.
At the end of 10 overs, KKR were at 84/2, with Gurbaz (52*) and Venkatesh Iyer (11*) unbeaten at the crease.
The 47-run stand between Gurbaz and Venkatesh Iyer came to an end when Joshua Little trapped Iyer lbw for 11(14 balls).
KKR were 84/3 in 10.1 overs. Just three balls later, Little also got the wicket of skipper Nitish Rana who was back to pavilion for just four runs which came off three balls. KKR were reduced to 88/4 in 10.4 overs.
Rinku Singh was next up on the crease. He provided ample support to Gurbaz, who kept scoring big shots for KKR.
In the 15th over, Rinku-Gurbaz smashed Rashid, playing his 100th IPL match, for 17 runs. At the end of 15 overs, KKR were 134/4, with Gurbaz (81*) and Rinku (16*) unbeaten.
Noor Ahmed put an end to his compatriot’s heroics, dismissing Gurbaz for 81 (39 balls) with the innings studded with five fours and seven sixes. Rashid took a catch at deep-midwicket. KKR were 135/5 in 15.2 overs.
Russell was next on the crease and announced his intentions to go big, smashing Rashid for two sixes. KKR reached the 150-run mark in 16.5 overs.
Just when Rinku was looking to go big, he was caught by Joshua for 19 (20 balls). Noor got his second wicket. KKR were 156/6 in 17.3 overs.
David Wiese was next on the crease. The duo built a brief partnership, mostly powered by some meaty blows from Russell.
He was, however, caught near the boundary by Rahul Tewatia after an entertaining knock of 34 runs in just 19 balls, which consisted of two fours and three sixes. KKR ended their innings at 179/7 with Wiese unbeaten at 8*.
Shami was the pick of the bowlers for GT, taking 3/33 in his four overs. Little (2/25) and Noor (2/21) also delivered economical four-over spells. However, it was an off day for Rashid as he gave away 54 runs in four overs without any wicket, with an economy rate of 13.50.
Brief Scores: KKR: 179/7 (Rahmanullah Gurbaz 81, Andre Russell 34, Mohammed Shami 3/33). (ANI)