Nitish Rana had to endure a tough start to the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 after testing positive for Covid-19 late last month. But on Sunday, the left-handed batsman showed he has overcome that setback, by scoring a brilliant 80 (56b, 9×4, 4×6) to help Kolkata Knight Riders beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by 10 runs at the M.A Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. It was also KKR’s 100th win in IPL.
Rana’s 93-run second-wicket partnership with Rahul Tripathi, who scored a quickfire 53 (29b, 5×4, 2×6), helped KKR post 187 for six. Surnisers’s chase got off to a poor start as it lost openers David Warner and Wriddhiman Saha inside the Powerplay.
Jonny Bairstow, coming in at four, resurrected the chase with a 40-ball 55. The England player got going with a six off Shakib Al Hassan over extra cover before hammering 15 off one Andre Russell over. Bairstow and Manish Pandey kept the Sunrisers in the hunt by adding 92 for the third wicket. However, Eoin Morgan’s punt of recalling Pat Cummins, who bowled two tight overs at the start, worked as the Aussie pacer had Bairstow caught at point.
Pandey, who struck a valiant unbeaten half-century (61 n.o., 43b, 2×4, 3×6), ran out of partners as the asking rate climbed. It once again exposed Sunrisers’s lower-order weakness.
Rana, Tripathi shine
Earlier, asked to bat, KKR got off to a strong start, with Rana slamming a series of boundaries through the covers, both along the ground and over the in-field.
He went after Sandeep Sharma, hitting the medium-pacer for three consecutive boundaries in the fourth over, two through the off-side and one over fine leg.
With some help from Shubman Gill, KKR managed to get 50 off the Powerplay. Rashid Khan gave Sunrisers the first breakthrough, removing Gill.
But Rana and Tripathi kept finding boundaries with ease as KKR managed to score 95 runs between overs seven and 15. The right-handed Tripathi took on Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the 15th over, slamming the Indian pacer for a six over square leg and two boundaries behind point to bring up his fifty in just 28 balls.
Sunrisers pulled things back in the last five overs by getting four quick wickets, but it was not enough in the end.