It has been a mixed batting performance by Nitish Rana so far in the thirteenth edition of the Dream11 Indian Premier League.
Overcoming the inconsistency with the bat, Rana delivered when it mattered the most. The left-handed opening batsman smashed 87 runs to help Kolkata Knight Riders post a strong total of 172 for 5 against Chennai Super Kings at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Thursday.
CSK skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and decided to field first. Rana posted his highest ever IPL score at the top of the order. The aggressive southpaw was slow to start with but picked up the pace as the match progressed. Rana got to his 50 off 44 balls, but then unleashed on Chennai Super Kingsâ€™ spinners, who had till then bogged down the KKR top order batsmen.
The Delhi-based Ranaâ€™s 87 came off 61 balls which was studded with ten boundaries and four maximums, three of them came off successive balls from leg-spinner Karn Sharma.
The 27-year-old Rana and Shubman Gill (26: 17 balls, 4×4) provided a solid start to KKR by adding 53 runs for the opening wicket.
Skipper Eoin Morgan (15) and Rinku Singh (11) got starts but could not capitalise on them. The total was boosted by a little late cameo by Dinesh Karthik. The former captain belted an unbeaten 21 and helped KKR provide a strong finish. Karthik faced just 10 balls and hammered three fours.
Medium-pacer Lungi Ngidi bowled well to return with 2 for 34, while Ravindra Jadeja, Mitchell Santner and Karn Sharma chipped in with a wicket apiece.
KKR with 12 points from 12 games would like to win the next two ties to ensure a smooth passage while last yearâ€™s runners-up CSK, currently at the bottom of the eight-team table, are only playing for pride.
Earlier in the first leg, the sides had squared off in Abu Dhabi on October 7 in which KKR surprised CSK by 10 runs, thanks to Rahul Tripathiâ€™s 81.
Kolkata Knight Riders 172 for 5 in 20 overs (Nitish Rana 87, Shubman Gill 26, Dinesh Karthik 21 not out, Eoin Morgan 15, Rinku Singh 11; Lungi Ngidi 2-34, Ravindra Jadeja 1-20, Mitchell Santner 1-30, Karn Sharma 1-35) vs Chennai Super Kings.