IPL 2021: KKR Venkatesh enters Iyer gear, knocks out MI and takes first four places


Through the pyrotechnic of Venkatesh Iyer and Rahul Tripathi, the rise of Kolkata Knight Riders continued. They came into the second round of the IPL with just four points and played intense catch-up. The Royal Challengers have again hammered the Bangalore and Mumbai Indians teams and have now parachuted into the top four.

The total of MI, 155, was parallel. But on the slow Saeed Cricket Stadium pitch in Abu Dhabi, they had a star-studded bowling line-up to defend it. Iyer and Tripathi, however, were chased into the park for KKR, breaking the MI hood in the process. It was their first win against their boogie team in two years. Most importantly, after a seven-wicket win with 29 balls remaining, they command one of the healthiest net run rates between all teams.

Iyer rocks

The beauty of the IPL is that it helps young players get out of the closet and come to prominence. Iyer is the latest on the list. Even four months ago, the 26-year-old was a bench-warmer. As the left-hander revealed after the last game, KKR head coach Brendan McCullum decided to add him to the playing XI. Stuck in the start during the first phase, the team management acted in frustration. It is becoming a master stroke.

Against RCB he was unbeaten on 41 off 27 balls but without scoreboard pressure. Against MI, he faced a tough challenge — they chase and he was against the best attack in the league. He did not falter. He attacked two experienced international bowlers, Trent Bolt and Adam Milne, with disgust and was not afraid to use his legs against spin bowlers. He was a killer, a six and spun out to Milne. When Jaspreet Bhumra missed a few inches of his length he stood up and did the wallpaper. He took Rahul Sahar off the stumps to the deep midwicket boundary from the outside. He slipped on the track and Krunal hit Pandya’s six.

Iyer reached his first IPL fifties off 25 balls and eventually Bumrah was bowled out for 53, 28 just short of KKR’s victory.

His background makes his rise even sweeter. Iyer took up a career in chartered accounting and management to play cricket at his mother’s urging. He made his IPL debut six years after playing his first domestic T20 match for Madhya Pradesh. At this rate, he could be a millionaire in next year’s open auction.

Tripathi is stunned

He is an IPL. In such an easy situation, he was unbeaten on 74 off 42 balls. The pace of MI’s crack bowlers was in Tripathi’s favor. An example – when he got a leading edge when he tried to fly Bumra, the ball went over the third man boundary. Also, the radar did not work for Boult and Milne. When playing spin bowlers, Tripathi is adept at picking them up by the hand. With the help of the greasy surface, thanks to the evening snow, they won the alliance by 88 runs off 52 balls.

I get lost

The pitches at this ground are usually covered with grass with a greenish appearance, but historically spinners have taken 40 per cent of the wickets in limited overs cricket at this ground. The reason is the depression of the surface. Even for fast bowlers, the bounce is somewhat paradoxical.

So KKR captain Eoin Morgan did not hesitate to insert the MI and was even less reluctant to start with the spin. He played the pitch perfectly, but his teammate, Rohit Sharma, opposed it in the clean class. Outmarking Rohit’s Varun Chakraborty is the best piece of cricket in the second leg of the IPL.

Against the mystery spinner, the MI captain was close to the ball line, looking well at the stumps for the bowler and pushing him to throw the ball straight. Varun took the bait and carried it over the middle distance.

The spinner failed to thwart Rohit’s next move. The latter decided to be in the back row this time over the bowler. Varun threw the ball straight again. Rohit wiped him four more in the cow corner.

At the other end Quinton de Gock took the seamers and after nine overs the defending champions scored 77 not out. KKR then rallied, first jumping a little more to catch Rohit at long-on with a bad Sunil Narine leg-cutter. MI saw it, losing two wickets for 16 runs in four overs.

MI was 28/2 in four overs at another point towards the back-end. The game turned upside down in favor of KKR.

Brief Scores: Mumbai Indians: 155 for 6 in 20 overs (Quinton de Gock 55, Rohit Sharma 33; Loki Ferguson 2/27, Prasidh Krishna 2/43) Lost to Kolkata Knight Riders: 159 for three in 15.1 overs (74). Out, Venkatesh Iyer 53; Jaspreet Bhumra 3/43).

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