IPL 2022: Sunrisers shine in night sky as Tripathi and Markram score impactful 50s

Rahul Tripathi and Aiden Markram struck fifties to give Sunrisers a facile win over Kolkata Knight Riders, whose total of 175 prove inadequate. The win, though, was set up by a supreme exhibition of aggressive fast bowling by Umran Malik and T Natarajan.

Stroke-ful Rahul

Rahul Tripathi is something of an enigma in Indian cricket. He has an array of strokes that could melt the eyes; a technique that’s sturdier than some of the silly shots he plays to get out suggest; he has the courage to take on some of the most feared bowlers in the game. But alas, his body of work does not match his potential.

That he is the highest run-getter among uncapped players captures the story of his career. He gets the runs, but not by truckloads that could barge his way to the national team. He is already 31, not an age where selectors could take a leap of faith in him. There, though, is the example of Suryakumar Yadav, but for that, he needs a Suryakumar Yadav kind of a season too.

But there always is a start, and this innings, wherein he surreptitiously blended aggression and timing, could be the start of the phase. From the moment he strode in, there was a sense of purpose and urgency about him. There were a host of familiar faces around him—he was a Kolkata Knight Rider last year, and he seemed to know the strength and flaws of every player inside out. Just the second legal ball he faced, he flicked Umesh Yadav, one of his best friends in the KKR team, regally through fine-leg.
The stroke conveyed the mood and touch he was in. But how many times have you seen him flatter to deceive? But this one did not. His next four was classier, Pat Cummins had only pitched marginally fuller, but he pressed forth, a full-fledged front-foot press, and drove him through covers. Even the Australian gazed at him admiringly.

After demonstrating his elegance, he showed his mental flexibility, his ability to improvise his strokes. Andre Russell had just nailed captain Kane Williamson with a short-of-length ball that he under-edged. Tripathi ventured for the ball.

Though short, the ball seamed back in to congest him for room, but he swayed his body back to get under the ball and fetched it over square leg. Russell and KKR were suddenly short of ideas and inspiration.
Their captain Shreyas Iyer summoned Varun Chakravarthy. Tripathi shunned him of all his mystery, looting him for a three sixes and a four in four balls he faced across two overs.

In a modest chase of 176, that was all the momentum SRH had craved for. KKR blinked, they froze, options were running out. Sunil Narine was the last throw of the dice. Tripathy stole singles of the first few balls diligently.

But when he landed an off-break fuller outside the off-stump, he lunged forth and swatted him with the impatient disdain of a brute annoyed by a pesky fly. Soon after, he completed his half-century, off only 21 balls. Run-rate under control, he decelerated and inched SRH closer to the finish line. Though he perished, Aiden Markram, with an unbeaten 68 steered them home with 13 balls to spare.

KKR would feel that the snubbed are biting them. Only a few games ago, Kuldeep Yadav, who was benched for almost the entire season, demolished them with an exhibition of high-class spin bowling. It was Tripathi’s turn next, and they would be wondering whose turn it would be next.

Sting of the pace-pack

Only one of SRH’s pace quartet is an overseas entity—the South African Marco Jansen. But their domestic assemblage sufficed. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, though not at his deceptive best showed the value of his experience, removing Pat Cummins at a crucial juncture of the match. His assortment of yorkers and slower ones are still hard to line up for the big strokes.

But the man who is making batsmen hop in fear is Umran Malik. He enhanced his reputation by ratcheting up hostility and aggro. He blasted the stumps of Shreyas Iyer with a blinding yorker, before he restricted the marauding Andre Russell to just two runs in an over that was all fire and fury. The Jamaican did all he could to connect with the ball, but ended swishing the thin air five times in an over. A rib-shattering bouncer had him spread-eagled on the turf, while trying to bob away from it.
The forgotten T Natarajan too showed stirrings of a renaissance after a set of unfortunate injuries. He dislodged Venkatesh Iyer and Sunil Narine with the new ball before he swallowed Nitish Rana, the top-scorer with 54 runs, at the death.

Though Russell brought on the afterburners, KKR’s total fell inadequate.

Brief Scores:

KKR 175 for 8 in 20 overs (Nitish Rana 54, Andre Russell 49 not out; T Natarajan 3/37, Umran Malik 2/27) VS SRH 176/3 in 17.5 overs (Rahul Tripathi 71, Aiden Markram 68 not out; Andre Russell 2/20).

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