Knight Riders vs Indians, Talking points: KKR snap six-match losing streak, belligerent Pandya eclipses Russell
Hardik Pandya's 34-ball 91 almost got Mumbai Indians over the line. (AFP Image)

A total of 29 sixes were hit, which is the sixth-most in an IPL match as Kolkata Knight Riders managed to beat Mumbai Indians by 34 runs and keep their Playoff hopes alive, albeit by a thread. Andre Russell was once again at his monstrous best but his knock almost got eclipsed by a belligerent innings from Hardik Pandya, who gave KKR a massive scare. We look at the talking points that impacted the outcome of the game.

Gill, Lynn opening salvo

With KKR shedding their opening pair of Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine for the second game in a row, young Shubman Gill made the most of his opportunities at the top. Gill, playing his second innings of the season right at the top set the tone from the very first over of KKR’s innings. He struck two fours and a six in the opening over which yielded 14 runs. But it was the camaraderie between the two batsmen which stood out. Gill allowed breathing space to Lynn and once the Australian found his range of shots, the youngster took the backseat. Lynn carved four boundaries and two sixes to reach his half-century off 27 balls as the duo raced to an opening stand of 50 inside the Powerplay, Later, with Lynn departing, Gill, in the company of Russell, displayed his range of shots. The leg spin of Rahul Chahar and the pace of Lasith Malinga was dealt disdainfully with Gill ensuring that KKR never lost their momentum.

Three-dimensional Russell

Two days ago, Russell did not hold back about his true feelings for KKR, mentioning how poor decision making has been the result of KKR slipping from No. 2 to No. 6 on the points table. Hence, one believes that he may have channeled those emotions on MI Sunday night by dishing out another Russell special of the season. Time and again, Russell had expressed his desire a little higher, and the West Indian was finally granted his wish as he came to at the fall of the first wicket in the 10th over. He offered half a chance on 1, but his fellow countryman Evin Lewis, at deep square leg, could not get complete control of the chance. And that was that. Thus began another Russell carnage. From six off 12, Russell smoked Chahar for back to back sixes and laid into the rest of the bowlers. They bowled wide and Russell hammered them through covers. MI bowled short, Russell cut and ramped them. Taking his momentum forward, de Russ once brought out the big ones in the death. He thumped three sixes off Hardik Pandya in the 18th over, 15 off Jasprit Bumrah’s final over and another 20 off the final, bowled by Malinga, in which Russell drilled the pacer for two sixes and two fours, giving KKR their second-highest IPL total.

MI lose plot in first ten overs in chase

Chasing over 230, MI required their openers and the rest of the top order to come out all guns blazing. But what transpired in the first ten overs of their chase simply put the game out of their reach. Quinton de Kock was removed for a duck and skipper Rohit Sharma managed just 12. Suryakumar Yadav and Kieron Pollard entered the 20s and perished. In the first ten overs, MI had lost four wickets for 78 runs and at that moment, there seemed to be just one imminent outcome.

KKR survive Pandya scare

… but just when all hope seemed lost, out walked Hardik Pandya with the confidence of all those lower order cameos he’s played this season and in the company of first Pollard, then his brother, Krunal, gave MI a solid chance to turn the tables on KKR. Walking in at No.6, in Hardik’s first 14 balls, the allrounder had drilled six sixes. In 17 deliveries, Hardik had reached his first half-century of the season and third overall in IPL. With six overs left, and MI needing another 100, Hardik went into overdrive. Piyush Chawla was hammered for 20 by the Pandya brothers. Courtesy Hardik’s big shots, the equation boiled down to 73 off four to then 59 off three. With nine sixes and six boundaries, Hardik’s strike-rate rocketed past 250, and for a chance, Andre Russell’s sixes appeared smaller. But the required rate was just too much and Hardik perished on the final ball of the 18th over. MI eventually fell short by 34 runs but Pandya’s electric 34 off 91 balls was quite simply one of the best knocks of the season.

KKR break losing streak

With the one, not only did KKR snap their six-match losing streak but kept their Playoff hopes alive. However, the joy may be short-lived considering two spots have already been sealed – Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals. This was also KKR’s sixth win over Mumbai Indians across 12 seasons and they have a chance to do the double when these two teams meet in the final league game of the season.