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Kolkata Knight Riders 218 for 4 (Uthappa 67*, Rana 63, Russell 48) beat Kings XI Punjab 190 for 4 (Miller 59*, Agarwal 58, Mandeep 33*, Russell 2-21) by 28 runs

Sunil Narine provided the fast start, Nitish Rana and Robin Uthappa built an outstanding platform, and Andre Russell – who else! – gave the Kolkata Knight Riders innings a furious finish, whomping five sixes and three fours in a 17-ball 48. A target of 219 always seemed too much for Kings XI Punjab, even on this super-flat Eden Gardens surface. The visitors made a valiant charge in their own innings, but did not have the firepower that Knight Riders possessed, and ultimately went down by 28 runs.

As with the bat, so was Russell great with the ball. It was Russell who had Chris Gayle top-edge a pull to be caught in the infield. It was Russell who generated a little extra bounce a second time, and had Sarfaraz Khan produce another top-edge – this one to be gobbled up by the keeper. His bowling analysis, in the end, was 2 for 21 off three overs – the best figures for the match. Thanks largely to him, the Knight Riders have had an outstanding start to their season. They are two wins from two games now – Russell has claimed the Man of the Match award on both occasions.

But it could have turned out so differently…

Alright, who’s the culprit? Own up. This is where the game was won and lost.

Russell had actually been bowled by an outstanding Mohammed Shami yorker at what should have been the end of the 17th over. He had been on 3 off 5 balls at the time. Knight Riders would have been 163 for 3 with three overs to go.

Russell’s leg stump was pegged back, and he was walking off the ground when… hang on… the umpires realised something was amiss. A no-ball was signalled. Not because Shami had overstepped. Not because the ball was over waist-high. The no-ball was for something far more avoidable.

Only three Kings XI fielders had been inside the 30-yard circle at the time of delivery. The visitors’ celebrations were cut short. Shami was seen in conversation with David Miller. Captain R Ashwin was seen ranting in anger in the general direction of the universe.

Dre Russ comes back, takes a single to keep the strike, then next over, top-edges a six, bludgeons a four to deep midwicket, top-edges a four, and monsters another one over the deep midwicket boundary. To add insult to Shami’s injury he then bludgeons three consecutive sixes off Shami’s next over (the 19th of the innings), and drills a four through wide long-off as well. Following that reprieve, Russell plunders 45 off 12 deliveries. Kings XI might have had a manageable target, if not for that.

R Ashwin watch

So you’re not a fan of mankad dismissals. So you’re still scandalised by his run out of Jos Buttler. Well strap in, snowflake. Get a load of the stunt Ashwin pulled in this game.

Sixth over of Kings XI’s innings, Uthappa fielded the ball at cover, and the Kings XI batsman took a run. But then, when it was fairly clear that the ball was dead (the batsmen were not alive to the possibility of another run, and the fielders were merely passing the ball back to the bowler for the next ball), Uthappa lobbed the ball to Russell at mid-off, who lost it in the floodlights, and ducked, leaving the ball to skip away to the boundary.

Ashwin was out of his seat in the dugout straight away, marching to the fourth umpire, making an impassioned case that four overthrows had been conceded. Incredibly, the fourth umpire agreed. He radioed his on-field colleagues, alerted them to Ashwin’s complaints, after which the standing umpire signaled four runs. The ball wasn’t dead after all.

Whatever you think of the ethics of any of this, it’s hard to dispute that Ashwin has lit up this first week of the IPL. Next match, he’ll probably barge into a batsman mid-pitch, knock him over, and run him out.

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