Rana combined with Robin Uthappa for a stand off 110 runs in just 66 balls to power his team. Photo BCCI
Rana combined with Robin Uthappa for a stand off 110 runs in just 66 balls to power his team. Photo BCCI

Nitish Rana had time and again showed his potential in previous Indian T20 League editions, but the prowess of the Delhi skipper was on full flow for Kolkata against Punjab at the Eden Gardens as he pummelled 63 runs in just 34 balls, combining for a stand of 110 runs with Robin Uthappa (67* off 50 balls) in just 66 balls before Andre Russell’s belligerent 48 off just 17 balls powered Kolkata to 218/4 in Match 6 of the league on Wednesday. (FOLLOW: Kolkata vs Punjab, Match 6)

After Sunil Narine (24 off nine) and Chris Lynn (10 off 10) had provided Kolkata with a blazing start with the West Indian ransacking 25 runs off Indian T20 League debutant Varun Chakravarthy – Punjab’s INR 8.4 crore buy – Rana and Uthappa maintained the tempo throughout the middle overs. From 42/2 in 4 overs, Kolkata raced to 142 in just 14 overs, which eventually ended with a big flourish courtesy Russell.

Punjab, who made four changes to their side and opted to bowl, were guilty of bowling too wide as both Rana and Uthappa capitalised with aplomb. Rana channelled his state teammate Rishabh Pant’s aggressive approach launching mighty heaves across the cow corner and over extra cover to take seven sixes and four fours.

Ravichandran Ashwin, the Punjab skipper, who was miserly in his first game against Rajasthan was taken for 47 runs in his four overs, while the part-timer Mandeep Singh’s dibbly-dobblers were taken for 18 runs in one over. South African Hardus Viljoen, making his Indian T20 League debut started well the wicket of Narine in his first over – top edge taken well by wicketkeeper KL Rahul – but he too came under the pump, giving away 36 runs in his four.

Rana departed to Chakravarthy, top edging one to mid-off fielder Mayank Agarwal in the 15th over, but Uthappa continued the assault notching up his 24th Indian T20 League fifty off 41 balls. Chakravarthy, after bowling the most expensive over for a debutant in the league, redeemed himself giving away just 10 runs in his next two overs.

The international quality of Andrew Tye and Mohammed Shami in the death overs eluded them. Shami had Russell cleaned up for three, but that was off a no-ball with only three players inside the circle and that reprieve proved costly for Punjab as Russell tonked Tye for two fours and two sixes in the 18th over, following it up with three straight sixes and four of Shami in the 19th over, making it eight boundaries in a row for the big West Indian.  

Brief Scores: Kolkata 218/4 (Nitish Rana 63, Robin Uthappa 67*; Varun Chakravarthy 1/35) vs Punjab