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Rahul Tripathi’s boundary blitz takes Pune third

Rising Pune Supergiant 158 for 6 (Tripathi 93, Woakes 3-18) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 155 for 8 (Pandey 37, Sundar 2-18, Unadkat 2-28) by four wickets

Rahul Tripathi's 23-ball fifty

Rahul Tripathi watches one sail into the stands © BCCI

Rahul Tripathi and Ben Stokes put on a 43-run stand for the fourth wicket which powered Pune to a four wicket win – their sixth in seven matches – and moved them to third spot in the Indian Twenty20 competition at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Wednesday.

The chase of 156 got a bit harder with the loss of Ben Stokes, MS Dhoni, and then Tripathi himself with six needed. But Daniel Christian’s flat six over deep midwicket off Colin de Grandhomme sealed victory with four balls to spare, consigning Kolkata Knight Riders to only their second defeat in six home games this season.

The result was set up by Rising Pune’s bowlers, led by Jaydev Unadkat’s 2 for 28, who took pace off the ball on a two-paced surface to keep Knight Riders to 155 for 8. Struggling at 55 for 4 in the tenth over, the hosts needed a counter-attacking partnership from Colin de Grandhomme and Manish Pandey to breathe life into the innings, before Suryakumar Yadav gave them a late lift with an unbeaten 16-ball 30.

Variable bounce, a stifled start
Sunil Narine had pinched quick runs at the top of the order in previous games, but he was up against Jaydev Unadkat, who had gone at just 7.8 an over in the Powerplay this season.

Unadkat got the ball to nip around both ways and Narine struggled to connect with the first five balls. When he finally made contact, it was to an offcutter that didn’t come on. Narine missed his timing and skewed a return catch; Rising Pune had begun with a maiden for the first time in the IPL.

Shortly after, Sheldon Jackson stepped on his stumps after moving too far back against offspinner Washington Sundar. But Gautam Gambhir dealt with the variable pace and lack of room by shifting around his crease to make space for shots. Back-to-back fours off Ben Stokes and a four and six off Sundar gave Gambhir 20 runs off six balls, but he holed out to deep midwicket in the pursuit for more. Knight Riders were 41 for 3 – their second-worst Powerplay score this season.

De Grandhomme and Pandey fight back
Colin de Grandhomme had two ducks and a 1 in three out of four innings this IPL. If there ever was a time that KKR needed him to find form, this was it – 59 for 4 after 10 overs. And he did, along with Manish Pandey. Pandey hit three successive fours in the 11th over from Shardul Thakur, and de Grandhomme matched that tally with consecutive sixes in the next from Imran Tahir. Knight Riders scored 44 runs between overs 11 and 14.

Dot and out
Pandey’s dismissal to a slower ball from Daniel Christian barely slowed de Grandhomme down. So fluent was he that until Unadkat came on to bowl the 17th over, not one of the 17 balls de Grandhomme had faced had been a dot. Unadkat then sent down an offcutter to beat de Grandhomme, who played too early. The next ball was a slower one as well and de Grandhomme closed the face of his bat to pop a leading edge to backward point.

Unadkat’s changes in pace had fetched him figures of 3-1-7-2; only four balls had been scored off. However, a sure-footed Suryakumar Yadav lay in wait during the 19th over. Three successive slower balls were swatted for 14 runs, before Nathan Coulter-Nile completed the assault with a mow over cow corner. The 21-run over gave KKR the late surge they were looking for.

Fastest fifty, fastest start
While Rising Pune’s bowlers had taken pace off the ball, KKR’s hit the pitch hard. Umesh Yadav had Ajinkya Rahane caught behind with one that nipped in, and Chris Woakes claimed Steven Smith’s off stump with a similar ball. At the other end though, Tripathi had gathered steam.

He benefitted from pace on the ball and also from errors in length, moving forward to drive fuller balls as confidently as he moved back to pull the short ones. Coulter-Nile went for 19 runs in his second over, and Umesh and Woakes also suffered as Rising Pune stormed to their fastest fifty in the IPL, off 26 balls.

When Coulter-Nile came back to bowl three overs later, Tripathi took him for 15 more. At the end of the Powerplay, Rising Pune had 74 – 33 more than KKR had managed. Tripathi then scooped Narine fine to raise the fastest fifty by a Rising Pune batsman, off 23 balls; at that point, 50 of his 53 runs had come in boundaries.

Woakes got Manoj Tiwary to play on against one that ripped back in off the seam, but Tripathi continued to find the boundary to offset the losses. Kuldeep Yadav was bludgeoned for three successive sixes, each struck with a steady head, in the 13th over. That brought the required rate under four. Tripathi’s seventh six – a slog sweep over square leg – took him into the nineties. He finally perished on 93 – the substitute Rovman Powell flinging himself to his right at midwicket to catch a stunner – but he left Rising Pune with only six to get off eight balls.

Credit:@ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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