IPL: KKR survive Klaasen epic in thrilling last-over win over Sunrisers

NEW DELHI: Andre Russell‘s unbeaten 25-ball 64 carnage trumped Heinrich Klaasen‘s jaw-dropping 29-ball 63 blitz as Kolkata Knight Riders registered a thrilling four-run last-over win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in their season opener in Kolkata on Saturday.
After Russell’s fireworks lit up the Eden Gardens, taking the hosts to a towering 208 for 7, Klaasen pulled off a stunning effort and singlehandedly brought a down and out Sunrisers back into the game.
However, perishing under the pressure, Klaasen fell in the final over, failing to get his team across the finish line.
With 13 needed in the last over, Harshit Rana (3/33) showed nerves of steel, giving away just 8 runs and bagging a couple of wickets to secure a tight win for his side.
Pat Cummins, on his IPL debut as captain, faced the final ball and needed four to tie the match but Harshit bowled a dot ball to trigger wild celebrations.
As It Happened
The South African Klaasen took IPL’s costliest buy Mitchell Starc to cleaners smashing him for three sixes, while Bengal cricketer Shahbaz Ahmed ended the Aussie left-arm quick’s over with another six.
That 26-run over meant Starc, who joined the Knight Riders for a record Rs 24.75 crore, finished with woeful figures of 4-0-53-0.
Needing 13 off the last over, KKR gambled with rookie pacer Rana as he was hammered for seven runs off the first two balls.
But first he dismissed Shahabaz and then Klaassen off his penultimate delivery, which came through a superb backward diving catch by Suyash Sharma, to give the local side a fantastic win.
Chasing the imposing target on a beautiful batting deck at Eden Gardens, Hyderabad found themselves at 145/5, needing 61 runs from 19 balls before Klaasen came in.
Earlier, openers Mayank Agarwal and Abhishek Sharma, who both scored identical 32, gave SRH a perfect start.
The duo made 60 runs in 33 balls before Agarwal was dismissed by Rana.
Before Rana got into the act, KKR’s trump card Narine dished out his sorcery. The West Indian bowled from seventh to 13th over, and gave away just 19 runs in four overs.
He took only one wicket but stifled SRH’s progress in the middle-overs.
However, KKR’s fielding was an eyesore. Varun Chakravarthy’s fitness was always a concern and it came to fore when he dropped a dolly to deprive Narine the wicket of Rahul Tripathi.
The former KKR batter got another reprieve in the next over and this time impact player Suyash failed to hold on to a return catch.
It would have been a boundary, but umpire Yeshwant Barde got in the way of the ball, leaving him grounded.
Earlier, Salt got third IPL fifty in just 38 balls before being dismissed by Mayank Markande (2/39).
The Englishman made 54 off 40 after Narine (2), Venkatesh Iyer (7), Shreyas Iyer (0) and Nitish Rana (9) fell cheaply with pacer T Natarajan (3/32) making early dents.
But KKR had the ‘Dre Russ’ power in their ranks.
Russell teed off against Markande when he launched the SRH leg-spinner deep into the stands — three sixes in five balls.
Markande for a moment thought that he had the last laugh when Aiden Markram took a blinder at long-on but replays showed he grounded the forward diving catch, giving Russell a breather on 20.
The warning signs were on for SRH and the Jamaican went ballistic in Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s penultimate over hitting him for two fours and two sixes, taking 26 runs.
Rinku Singh, at the other end, made a 15-ball 23 as the duo put together 81 runs from 33 balls as Kolkata scored 85 runs in the last five overs.
However, credit should also go to Salt and Ramandeep Singh.
Salt remained firm despite early wickets and got handy support from debutant Ramandeep who quickly ran off the blocks in an entertaining 54-run partnership.
Ramandeep slammed Cummins for a boundary and then pulled a short one for a six.
He also hit Markande and Marco Jansen and Shahbaz Ahmed for three more sixes in his 17-ball 35 before being dismissed by Cummins.
The partnership set the tone for the final assault by Russell and Rinku.
(With inputs from PTI)

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