It was always going to be a match where R Ashwin would get all the attention. And in many ways, it was a match which transpired exactly the way the skipper would not have wanted things to have happened.
"We are a team that always wanted to be competitive and fierce," Ashwin said after winning the toss and electing to field first in their second IPL game against Kolkata Knight Riders.
"That's how we started last year, unfortunate that it petered out. But we're looking forward to yet another good contest here."
KXIP were fielding first, KKR got off to a blazing start courtesy Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn. Nitish Rana and Robin Uthappa blazed away in the middle order as the hosts were cruising along. After Rana's dismissal, the stage was set for Andre Russell. He walked out to a massive roar, but the big Jamaican struggled to get going at the outset.
KXIP bowlers were bowling to a plan and they were pinning their yorkers. Russell was on 3 when Shami pinged a yorker which snuck under Russell's bat and smashed the stumps. Eden was stunned and the batsman was walking back when the umpire intervened, signalled a no ball since there were only 3 fielders within the 30-yard circle.
This was a relief Russell wanted as he broke free to slam 5 sixes and 3 fours. He was racing along on 48 off 17 when his pull was caught brilliantly by Mayank Agarwal at deep square leg.
KKR zoomed past 200, they posted 218 on the board and Russell was man with the ball too as he picked up a couple of wickets to derail KXIP's chase.
Well, and Twitter was not going to let this go so easily:
Ashwin was just happy to be involved. No business there.— Nikhil ? (@CricCrazyNIKS) March 27, 2019