Match 3 of the IPL featured 2 teams who have won the tournament in the past – Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders.
Both teams took big selection calls that created a buzz.
KKR dropped one of their legendary players – Sunil Narine and astonishingly, SRH went without Kane Williamson, opting instead for Jonny Bairstow.
KKR went with Eoin Morgan, Shakib al Hasan and Pat Cummins as their overseas players, which was the correct strategy as later events proved.
A lot has been written about the weaknesses of KKR in the batting department.
Nitish Rana is a batsman who they have backed for a long time and today, he repaid the faith with a monumental 80 off just 56 balls (9 fours and 4 sixes).
He held the innings together and departed as late as the 18th with the score at 160.
His 93 runs partnership with Rahul Tripathi was the defining period for KKR.
Their batting has been over-reliant on Dinesh Karthik and Russell and it was heartening to see the Indian youngsters perform.
Karthik applied the finishing touches with a blazing 22 off 9 balls, with 2 fours and a six.
Rashid Khan, expectedly, was the pick of the bowlers with a tidy spell of 2-24 off 4 overs.
His ball that got rid of Shubman Gill was an exquisite googly and a contender for the best delivery of IPL 2021.
Poor start by SRH
SRH began in the worst possible way by losing their main batsman, David Warner to a peach of a delivery by Prasidh Krishna.
Krishna has a high arm action that generates steep bounce.
But what made the difference was that ball landed on its seam and nipped away slightly, inducing an edge that was gratefully snapped by Karthik.
Wriddhiman Saha cut a straight ball from Shakib al Hasan on to his stumps and suddenly, SRH were 10-2.
Jonny Bairstow, who came in at No. 4 showed why he is considered one of the best T20 batters in the world and made an effortless 55 off just 40 balls, studded with 3 massive sixes.
Bairstow and Manish Pandey, who came in at No. 3, carved out a 92 run partnership that looked good enough to take SRH all the way.
However, when Cummins dismissed Bairstow, the floodgates opened.
Nabi and Vijay Shankar threw their bats around but couldn’t last long.
Abdul Samad, who was drafted in as a pinch-hitter struck 2 sixes in his unbeaten 8 ball stint but SRH fell 10 runs short.
All the KKR bowlers performed well but Prasidh Krishna was the key with the 2 vital wickets of Warner and Nabi.
Kolkata Knight Riders 187 for 6 (Rana 80, Rahul Tripathi 53) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 177 for 5 (Pandey 61 not out, Bairstow 55) by ten runs