Kolkata Knight Riders 272 for 7 (Narine 85, Raghuvanshi 54, Russell 41, Nortje 3-59) beat Delhi Capitals 166 (Pant 55, Stubbs 54, Arora 3-27, Chakravarthy 3-33) by 106 runs

Last Wednesday at the IPL, Sunrisers Hyderabad set the record for the highest IPL score: 277. What should have been a once-in-a-decade effort was very nearly taken down by a marauding Kolkata Knight Riders batting unit tonight in Visakhapatnam. Sunil Narine plundered his personal best in T20s – 85 off 39 – almost home-grown Angkrish Raghuvanshi matched him with 54 off 27, and Andre Russell added the finishing touches with 41 off 19.

A searing yorker from Ishant Sharma to get Russell in the last over prevented the record being broken, but the 272 KKR put up was more than enough to register a comfortable win – by 106 runs – and join Rajasthan Royals with three wins from three matches at the top of the table. In taking four wickets in the powerplay, two each for Vaibhav Arora and Mitchell Starc, KKR ticked another box in a season in which they have presented themselves as serious title contenders.

Narine, Raghuvanshi hammer Capitals

Khaleel Ahmed and Ishant Sharma set Capitals’ win in the previous match in Vizag with swing early on. Here, though, probably because of Narine’s presence, both of them started slightly short of a length. The one ball that Khaleel pitched up swung to beat Narine.

It seems ridiculous now but Narine took six balls to get off the mark. Capitals had managed to keep Narine quiet, but had they missed the small window of swing to try to get him out? Another chance would arrive soon to a short-of-a-length delivery, but neither Ishant Sharma nor Rishabh Pant heard the edge. No appeal, no review.

Narine and Phil Salt had got down to work by then, but Capitals could still have got Narine for 24 off 13 had they listened to Mitchell Marsh and reviewed. Then again, reviews were not the only thing they were getting wrong. They kept offering Narine room, when they went short they didn’t get it high enough, and the ball had stopped swinging by now.

Anrich Nortje got rid of Salt in the fifth over, but Raghuvanshi, trained from the age of 11 by KKR’s own Abhishek Nayar, walked out and laced fours off the first two balls he faced. Mukesh Kumar is not express, but his injury has left DC with even less of a pace threat. Narine jumped on Rasikh Salam’s medium-pace in the last over of the powerplay, hitting him for three fours and a six to bring up his half-century in just 21 balls. Their 88 for 1 in the powerplay was the highest by any team so far at IPL 2024.

The end of the powerplay brought DC relief only for one over, bowled by Sumit Kumar, but Narine ended any threats of variations in the attack by hitting two sixes off Axar Patel, who wouldn’t bowl again. Raghuvanshi matched him with a reverse-pull over short third for a six. Their 135 for 1 was the third-highest 10-over score in the IPL – all three have come this season.

Wickets fail to slow KKR down

Eventually it was the short ball from Marsh that got the better of Narine, but it wasn’t just one short ball. He kept bowling short and wide outside off with changes of pace. Narine still ended with a boundary every two-and-a-half balls, and the wicket came too late anyway. The 13th over was the right point of entry for Russell, and he punished the samey attack. Capitals didn’t go back to spin despite right-hand batters at the wicket, and Nortje was the only one who presented the batters with an inbuilt challenge.

Russell was too good for the rest, and when Nortje started the 19th over with one fewer fielder on the fence because of a poor over-rate, Rinku Singh got stuck into him, taking 25 off the over.

Ishant then produced a beauty that drew an applause from Russell himself and prevented Capitals from ending up on the wrong side of the record.

Arora announces himself

One of the two tall domestic fast bowlers in the KKR stable, Arora came on as the Impact Player and found inswing immediately. It wasn’t just swing, though. He mixed it up with accurate bouncers. Prithvi Shaw fell to the inswinger before Abhishek Porel top-edged a bouncer.

At the other end, Starc took care of his Australia team-mates, Marsh caught trying to square-drive and Warner playing on immediately after slogging him for a six. These were his first wickets this IPL after his eight overs in the first two matches had gone for 100 runs.

At 33 for 4 in the fifth over, even batting for net run rate would need heavy hitting and risks. For a while Pant and Tristan Stubbs managed to score quickly. Pant was especially pleasing as he continues his return from a life-threatening accident, but their fifties were never going to be enough to deny KKR a third consecutive win – the first time they have started a season with three wins in three in their history.

Sidharth Monga is a senior writer at ESPNcricinfo



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