The third match of IPL 2021 began with SRH winning the toss and choosing to bowl first. Experts suggested that this was a surprising decision as the pitch looked like it would spin from the get-go. The four foreign players playing for KKR were captain Eoin Morgan, all-rounders Shakib Al Hasan and Andre Russel, and Australian quick Pat Cummins. The foreign players for SRH were captain David Warner, batsman Jonny Bairstow, all-rounder Mohammad Nabi and leg spinner Rashid Khan. And as is the case, most of the times, SRH has a match, one of the best batsman in the world- Kane Williamson has to sit in the dugout.
The first 3 overs of the first innings went by quietly, with 19 runs being scored off them. Nitish Rana stepped on the accelerator in the 4th over and hit three boundaries. The first ball of the 5th over was hit for a six by Shubhman Gill, who had scored 7 off 7 balls till that point. The 6th oversaw the introduction of a spin into the bowling attack, with Mohammad Nabi bowling his off-spin. KKR finished the powerplay with an impressive score of 50 for 0 wickets.
Rashid Khan got SRH their first wicket by getting Shubhman Gill’s wicket. Gill tried to slog the ball for a six over mid-wicket but completely missed the googly and got bowled. Rahul Tripathi was the next batsman in and his second ball for an almost unreal six over long-off.
Nitish Rana was given out LBW on the first ball of the 8th over by Rashid Khan. Still, the decision was easily overturned after Rana reviewed immediately as there was a significant inside edge. Rana reached a half-century by hitting a six off the last ball of the 10th over bowled by Vijay Shankar.
The two batsmen managed to keep the innings going at a healthy rate of 9 runs per over at the strategic timeout after the 14th over. Nitish Rana got to his 50 off just 28 balls by hitting two fours and a six off Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s 15th over and got out caught trying to slog the second ball of the next over. Keeper Wriddhiman Saha caught the high sliced ball on the second attempt.
The 16th over had a lot happening as the first ball was wide and went for a four. It was a googly that spun from the off stump and went behind Russel’s leg with the keeper and the batsman both missing it. The second ball hit Russel on the back leg and led to an appeal but was given not out. He hit the third ball powerfully to long-on, where Manish Pandey caught it in a stunning forward dive. The 5th ball was hit high in the air but was called a dead ball due to Saha’s cap dropping as he was crouching to get into position.
Mohammad Nabi got the two big wickets of Nitish Rana and Eoin Morgan off successive deliveries in the 17th over. Rana hit the ball to Vijay Shankar at long-off, leading to a regulation catch, but Abdul Samad took an excellent jumping catch at a deep backward square to get rid of Morgan.
Dinesh Kartik and Shakib Al Hasan were the two new batsmen. Natarajan bowled a good penultimate over, conceding only one boundary and 9 runs but KKR pulled back well scoring 16 runs off Bhuvneshwar’s last. Shakib Al Hasan got out on the last ball of the innings after scoring an unimpressive 3 runs off 5 balls. Dinesh Kartik’s cameo (22 runs in 9 balls) allowed KKR to reach an over par score of 187 runs.
The second innings began with David Warner and Wriddhiman Saha opening the batting for SRH. Harbhajan Singh bowled the first over for KKR, his first in over 600 days. Pat Cummins dropped David Warner on the third ball, but it was not a costly drop as Prasidh Krishna got him out caught behind in the very next over. Manish Pandey was the next batsman in. Saha got out off Shakib’s first delivery as he tried to cut a ball too close to his body, which resulted in an inside edge leading the ball onto the stumps.
Jonny Bairstow and Pandey stabilized the innings after the poor start and got SRH to 35 runs for 2 wickets at the end of the powerplay. Some severe power hitting was on display in the following overs as 54 runs were scored in 5 overs. Bairstow reached his 50 off a six in the 11th over. There was also a review taken by KKR for LBW when the ball hit Bairstow’s thigh after he missed impact attempting a slog-sweep, but the ball was missing the stumps.
Bairstow got out in the next over by slapping the ball into the lap of backward point.
SRH were 113 for 3 at the end of 14 overs, whereas KKR were 126 for 1. Pandey played the anchor role at this point, scoring at a good pace and keeping one end stable. The play was stopped in the 16th over, and the strategic timeout was taken as Nabi was hit on the side of the neck by Krishna’s bouncer. He cropped a hard blow and seemed pretty rattled as the ball missed the helmet and hit him directly on the skin. He gave a befitting reply by hitting the next ball for a four but unfortunately got out on the last ball of the over. Vijay Shankar was the new man in who got out after scoring 11 off 7 balls.
New batsman Abdul Samad hit two swashbuckling sixes in his first three balls, giving some hope to SRH as the equation was looking pretty bad by that point with 38 runs required in 12 balls, but he could not finish the match the way he would have liked to. Pandey hit the last ball of the innings for a 6 resulting in a 10 run win for KKR. Nitish Rana (who was the man of the match), Rahul Tripathi and Prasidh Krishna starred for the winning side. Manish Pandey, Rashid Khan and Jonny Bairstory played well for SRH. It was a pretty close match, and it was heartening to see that SRH could get close to 187 without a significant contribution from David Warner.