Kolkata Knight Riders 162 for 5 (Cummins 56*, V Iyer 50*, M Ashwin 2-25, Mills 2-38) beat Mumbai Indians 161 for 4 (Suryakumar 52*, Varma 38, Cummins 2-49) by five wickets
Cummins steals the show
Cummins and Venkatesh came together in the 14th over with Knight Riders needing 61 off 41 balls. Andre Russell had just been taken out by a Tymal Mills short ball, Jasprit Bumrah had two overs left, and Knight Riders were down to their lower order. It could have made a few teams jittery. Not the Knight Riders. Or not Cummins, at any rate.
Cummins smashed the second ball he faced for six over deep-backward square leg, scythed the third between backward point and short third for four, and deposited Bumrah over deep midwicket off his sixth. And just like that, the Knight Riders were up and running. Sprinting, actually. With the asking rate well under ten always, Knight Riders ensured loss of wickets weren’t going to be a deterrent to their no-holds-barred aggression.
Venkatesh, on 9 off 14 at one stage, found his hitting higher gears to bring up a 41-ball half-century. It wasn’t a flawless innings, but one filled with oodles of luck. Slashes flew over the fielders, swipes went off inside edges, and pulls landed in vacant areas, In between all this, he made a serious run, cashing in on some loose bowling to find boundaries with such regularity that loss of wickets weren’t even a bother.
Till then, Knight Riders kept finding fielders as they searched for big hits. A sluggish start up top forced Ajinkya Rahane’s ill-advised hook off Mills, which he top-edged to fall for 7 off 11. Then Sams got rid of Shreyas Iyer with a short ball that the Knight Riders captain pulled straight to deep square-leg. Sam Billings timed the ball superbly for a sparkling 17 before he picked out long-off, and Nitish Rana holed out to deep midwicket.
In trying to keep three Bumrah overs for the second half, Rohit Sharma may have had a quiet laugh at what had transpired, before the sensational onslaught came along. It was over in a flash after that.
The Surya-Varma repair job
Returning to competitive cricket after an injury break, Suryakumar started slowly, taking 18 balls to hit his first boundary. Though the runs didn’t come quick – he came in at 45 for 2 in the eighth over, and that became 55 for 3 by the end of the 11th – he held his composure and shape. Off the next 17, Suryakumar cashed in on some loose bowling to hit four fours and two sixes, including a neat little glide over short third to raise his half-century.
All the elements of a typical Suryakumar innings were on display: the wristwork, the whiplash strokes, the sweeps, the paddles and the ramps, as he scored all around the dial.
Complementing him superbly was Tilak Varma, the left-hander who has made brutal look beautiful this IPL. Setting up with a strong base and marrying his powerful wrists with swift footwork, Varma kept picking boundaries to keep the scoreboard chugging along. His fearlessness shone through as he walked across to scoop Cummins, slog Sunil Narine, and throw Varun Chakravarthy off his lengths.
Along the way, Varma rode his luck, too, when Rahane, chasing a catch he should have left for Billings, put down a steepler early in his innings.
The partnership eventually read 83 off 49 balls.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo