KKR's Salt and Starc combo proves too hot for LSG

Kolkata beat Lucknow by 8 wickets

Phil Salt after scoring half century against LSG | Salil Bera Phil Salt after scoring half century against LSG | Salil Bera

Opening batter Phil Salt's magnificent 89 not out complemented pacer Mitchell Starc's brilliant bowling show as Kolkata Knight Riders began their five-match home stretch with a one-sided eight-wicket win over Lucknow Super Giants in the Indian Premier League in Kolkata on Sunday.

The IPL's record buy Starc, who copped criticism for taking just two wickets from four matches and leaking 11 runs per over, grabbed 3/28, while Sunil Narine returned with figures of 1/17 in his miserly spell as LSG scored a below-par 161/7 after KKR opted to bowl.

The duo's bowling show eventually denied 20-30 runs for LSG who suffered their first ever defeat against KKR.

Salt smashed three sixes and 14 fours in his 47-ball 89 not out, while captain Shreyas Iyer overcame a wobbly start to remain unbeaten on a run-a-ball 38 as KKR chased down the target of 162 with 26 balls to spare.

The duo stitched an unbroken stand of 120 from 76 balls to take KKR to 162 form 2 in 15.4 overs.

KKR's Mitchell Starc in action during the IPL match against LSG | Salil Bera KKR's Mitchell Starc in action during the IPL match against LSG | Salil Bera

The win that coincided with the Bangla Nabo Barsho (Bengali New Year) catapulted KKR to second spot in the IPL table with eight points from five matches.

West Indies' Gabba Test hero against Australia, Shamar Joseph capped a forgettable debut for LSG and he began by leaking 22 runs in an eventful first over in which he bowled two wides and two no-balls.

Salt added salt to the injury by spanking the 24-year-old pacer over midwicket, that set the tone for his 26-ball fifty. He then smashed Arshad Khan for successive boundaries to race to his fifty, his second of the season -- both coming at their home turf.

The only bright spot for LSG was Mohsin Khan's first two overs when he exhibited a fine display of left-arm pace bowling and took the key wickets of Sunil Narine (6) and Angkrish Raghuvanshi (7).

He also nearly dismissed KKR skipper Shreyas Iyer with an incoming delivery that went through the batter's defence before darting away.

Apart from that, it was a one-way traffic with Salt in his devastating best.

At the end of power play, KKR were well on course with Salt's aggressive innings (strike rate of above 189) taking them to 58/2.

Iyer initially looked out of sorts and he had some anxious moments against left-arm pacer Mohsin Khan whose deliveries troubled the KKR sskipper.

With no scoreboard pressure, Salt's fluent innings also rubbed on Iyer who overcame an anxious start.

Earlier, playing his 14th successive season for KKR, Narine yet again showed his craft at Eden Gardens when he stifled LSG in the middle overs in his boundary-less show that eventually proved to be decisive.

The Trinidadian came right after the power play just when captain KL Rahul and Badoni were looking to capitalise with 49/2 on the board.

With the wicket gripping, he varied his pace and deceived the batters with his clever variations and the duo chose to see through his overs.

Narine gave away just nine runs in his first two overs, and completed his quota in the 15th over, dismissing Badoni (29) with Angrkrish Raghuvanshi taking a well-judged catch at deep square leg.

Under the searing sun and on a two-paced wicket, LSG struggled to hold on to the momentum after the power-play with Narine and Rana bowling with precision.

Promoted to No. 4 after his 35-ball 55 not out, Ayush Badoni struggled to rotate strike as the KKR bowler duo did well to bring the run-rate down to 7.2 at the halfway mark.

Rahul, who looked at ease against the pacers, also began to choke under pressure but he took on Andre Russell in the 11th over for an upper-cut six over deep backward point.

In the next ball, he attempted a swivel shot but mistimed it straight to Ramandeep Singh at deep midwicket to be out of 39.

Under-fire Starc bore the brunt of Quinton De Kock's fury early on when the South African smoked him for successive fours.

At the other end, Arora was wayward and Rahul took on the inexperienced seamer, hitting him over extra cover.

Against the run of play, Arora drew first blood in the second over, dismissing de Kock for 10 in a rather sloppy display by the South African veteran who took a thickish outside edge to hole out to Narine at short third man.

Hooda's promotion to No. 3 also failed to yield desired result as he ate up a lot of deliveries, leaving Rahul stranded at the other end.

Hooda finally perished for eight in the fifth over thanks to Ramandeep's flying catch at deep backward point as KKR's fielding looked vastly improved.

After being 111/5 in 14.4 overs, LSG recovered in the back end with Nicholas Pooran's counter-attacking innings.

Pooran smashed four sixes and two fours as LSG looked for a total of around 190 on the difficult pitch.

Just when he was closing in on his fifty, Starc (3/28) had the last laugh in the final over. 


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