Gurbaz’s scintillating 81 carries Kolkata to 179/7 against Gujarat

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Rahmanullah Gurbaz shares light moment with Gujarat Titan’s captain Hardik Pandya (R) during the match in Kolkata on Saturday. AP

A scintillating fifty from Rahmanullah Gurbaz followed by finishing fireworks from Andre Russell carried Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to a respectable 179/7 against Gujarat Titans in their IPL 2023 match at the Eden Gardens on Saturday.

With the rest of the batters not contributing much, Gurbaz stood up to enthral the spectators with 39-ball 81, laced with five fours and seven sixes. Russell, the birthday boy, smashed a 19-ball 34, with two fours and three sixes, to take Kolkata to a competitive total. For Gujarat, Mohammed Shami was impressive in picking three wickets while Noor Ahmad and Joshua Little were excellent in taking two wickets each.

After a wet outfield due to rain caused a delay of 45 minutes at the start of play, N. Jagadeesan gave Kolkata a fast start with his 15-ball 19. Apart from two nice cuts through backward point off Shami and Hardik Pandya, Jagadeesan had luck on his side by getting fours twice off thick outside edges.

Jagadeesan departed in the third over when he tried to walk across and flick off Shami, but missed the ball completely and was trapped lbw. Kolkata’s move to promote Shardul Thakur to number three backfired when he fell for a four-back duck, with mid-on running backwards and taking a sensational catch over his shoulder.

Gurbaz ensured Kolkata weren’t missing Jason Roy’s explosiveness, using his supple wrists and shuffling well to time a brace of sixes against Hardik, before smashing a four and six off Shami, followed by slogging a six and four off Rashid as Kolkata ended power-play at 61/2.

Gurbaz then used Josh Little’s pace to glide in the gap between backward point and short third-man for four, followed by lofting Rashid over extra cover for the same result to reach a scintillating fifty off just 27 balls. But Gujarat bounced back in the 11th over, as Little trapped Venkatesh Iyer lbw while going for a ramp, followed by having Nitish Rana cut straight to the backward point.

Gurbaz continued to be positive in his stroke play, clearing long-off and long-on easily for a six each off Noor and Hardik.

RinkuSingh-KKR Rinku Singh plays a shot during the match on Saturday. AP

After Rinku Singh welcomed Mohit Sharma with a six over the long-leg fence, Gurbaz smacked Rashid down the ground for another maximum, followed by whipping him through deep mid-wicket for four more. But his blitzkrieg came to an end in the 16th over after holing out to deep mid-wicket off a full toss from Noor.

Though Rinku holed out to long-on off Noor, Russell smacked Rashid for two leg-side sixes. He then thumped Noor for a powerful drive down the ground for four.

After David Wiese dispatched Little over long-on for six, Russell hammered Shami over long-on for six and got a top-edge on slog for four, before slicing to deep point on the last ball of the innings.

Indo-Asian News Service

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