Rahul Tripathi on Wednesday played a starring role for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), scoring a brilliant 51-ball 81 to help his team register a 10-run victory over the Chennai Super Kings (CSK).
Having won the toss and elected to bat, KKR looked in dire trouble at one stage when they lost their middle-order powerhouses in Eoin Morgan and Andre Russel in short succession after a wobbly start to their innings.
A rejig at the top saw Shubman Gill open with the Ranchi-born Tripathi as Sunil Narine was demoted to the number three position.
The CSK bowlers, in particular birthday boy Dwayne Bravo, were having a field day, varying their pace and length to great effect as the Abu Dhabi pitch had a lot on offer for the seamers.
Together, Bravo (3), Shardul Thakur (2) and Sam Curran (2) never allowed a batsman to settle at the crease for long, accounting for seven of KKR’s 10 dismissals.
Their impressive showing with the ball led to captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni deeming Ravindra Jadeja’s handy spin talents surplus to needs.
However, Tripathi unleashed himself on the CSK bowlers early on, as he took on Deepak Chahar in the third over, smashing him for consecutive boundaries before hitting Curran for a couple of fours in the next over.
Gill was dismissed by Bravo in the next over and Tripathi changed gears from then on, playing clean, risk-free shots to find the occasional boundary apart from the constant running between the wickets.
He had one last blast in the 14th over, smashing a six and a four to condemn Chahar (0/47) to his most expensive bowling figures in the IPL.
Tripathi’s knock, for which he was adjudged man-of-the-match, helped KKR post a modest 167-run total, which was successfully defended thanks to some fine captaincy from skipper Dinesh Karthik.
The win elevates KKR to third on the points table with six points from five matches. They will be in action next in Saturday double header, taking on the Kings XI Punjab, while CSK face Royal Challengers Bangalore in the second ficture the same day.