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IPL Turning Point: Not-so-ideal starts in first six overs with bat, ball cause Kolkata's downfall

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Mumbai, April 23 (IANS) In a must-win match against the Gujarat Titans to snap their three-match losing streak, Kolkata Knight Riders needed to get their A-game going in all three phases of the match.

Ideally, they would have liked to set the tone from the first six overs with both bat and ball. But that didn’t happen for the Shreyas Iyer-led side on a sunny Saturday afternoon at the DY Patil Stadium.

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“The way we started in the powerplay while chasing and even with the ball. We shouldn’t have conceded that much in these conditions. I think 160-165 was a decent score and we did well to keep them below that. In this format, all matches that are close we need to win those and only then we can climb up the ladder,” was Iyer’s realistic assessment of where his team fell short after a narrow eight-run loss, extending their streak of defeats to four.

Tim Southee, the New Zealand quick, came in for Pat Cummins (niggle) as one of three changes in the playing eleven. In his first two appearances of the ongoing tournament before being side-lined in favour of Cummins, Southee picked five wickets at an average of 11.20 and economy rate of 7. Southee showed the control he brings to the Kolkata line-up from his very first ball when he angled down leg to strangle ex-Kolkata and current Gujarat opener Shubman Gill for just seven.

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Gill’s scalp was the only wicket Kolkata could get in the power-play with the ball. Gujarat’s regular skipper Hardik Pandya, who missed his side’s last match against Chennai Super Kings due to groin injury, marked his return to the playing eleven and took the daring decision to bat first on an up-and-down pitch, smacked Southee for back-to-back fours through backward point and lifting over extra cover.

Pandya got ample support from Wriddhiman Saha at the other end. With Umesh Yadav struggling to nail his lengths, Saha crunched him for a nice six on backfoot over fine leg and ended third over with a four pulled this time through mid-wicket. Though Pandya and Saha got only 16 runs from the last three overs of power-play, Gujarat didn’t lose any more wickets in that phase.

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Though Kolkata made a superb comeback in the last five overs by taking seven wickets and conceding just 29 runs despite Pandya making 67, Gujarat ensured that the momentum gained by the two-time IPL champions was finished off in the first six overs of the defence of 156/9.

With a new opening combination in Sam Billings and Sunil Narine, the fourth time Kolkata changed their opening pair in the tournament. The hope of getting a good start began well when Billings brought out a glorious straight drive against Mohammed Shami. But Shami was the one who would take them out in his excellent spell with the new ball.

Immediately after the straight drive, Billings top-edged a pull to wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, opening the door for Gujarat to make inroads. Shami then setup and caused discomfort to Narine with short balls on body and then slipped one on hips, which the batter pulled uncomfortably to a diving Lockie Ferguson at short fine leg.

Nitish Rana fell cheaply, forced to poke at a Lockie Ferguson delivery coming from around the wicket without any footwork and took a healthy edge behind to Saha as Gujarat successfully overturned not out decision.

Kolkata’s score of 34/3 became 34/4 in the first ball post power-play when Iyer had begun to look comfortable at the crease but was undone by over the wicket angle from Yash Dayal and nicked behind to Saha.

Though Kolkata had Rinku Singh and Andre Russell trying for a win which didn’t happen, Kolkata would look back at the not-so-ideal starts they got in first six overs with bat and ball which pushed them back in the match hugely, leading to another so-close-yet-so-far loss.

–IANS

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