Venkatesh Iyer became the first batter to score a hundred for Kolkata Knight Riders since Brendon McCullum in 2008, hitting a 51-ball 104 that helped them reach 185/6 in 20 overs in Match 22 of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023, here on Sunday.
In the first afternoon match at a hot and dry Wankhede Stadium, Iyer waged a lone battle for KKR as he kept one end going, hitting nine maximums and five boundaries, making the most of the life he got when in the 80s. Iyer was the Impact Player for KKR a week back when he blasted an 83 in KKR's three-wicket win against Gujarat Titans.
On Sunday, he was included in the Playing XI and made a great impact as he kept alive the KKR's hopes of winning their first match at the Wankhede. He raised 46 runs for the second wicket with Rahmanullah Gurbaz (8), fifty runs for the fourth wicket with Shardul Thakur (13), and 36 for the fifth wicket with Rinku Singh (18) as KKR set up a challenging total on a pitch that is expected to get slower and offer a bit more turn in the second innings.
Earlier, KKR reached 57/2 at the end of the Power-play after being inserted in by Suryakumar Yadav, leading the side in the absence of regular skipper Rohit Sharma who was not included in the Playing XI because of a stomach bug. Mumbai made three more changes in their squad with Arshad Khan and Jason Behrendorff left out and Arjun Tendulkar, Tim David, and Duan Jansen, the left-arm seamer from West Indies, taking their place.
KKR lost opener N Jagadeesan early, Hrithik Shokeen picking up a brilliant catch diving forward as he drove on the up against Cameron Green. Venkatesh Iyer and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (8) kept the scoreboard ticking with Iyer doing most of the scoring as they reached fifty in the fifth over. But Gurbaz was out towards the end of the Power-play, caught by Jensen off Piyush Chawla.
Shokeen then struck another blow to KKR hopes, sending back their skipper Nitish Rana for five, mistiming a big one over long-on and caught by substitute fielder
Ramandeep Singh. Shokeen saw him off with a hot send-off and Rana responded with verbals of his own.
Venkatesh Iyer, meanwhile, kept going from the other end as if he was playing another match. He slashed Green hard over slips for a six in the 4th over and struck a streaky boundary two balls later. The KKR batter struck Jansen for two sixes in the fifth over and bashed Shokeen for two boundaries in the seventh over, getting to his half-century off 23 balls when an inside edge off Shokeen went to the boundary in the ninth over and then celebrated that by slog sweeping Shokeen for a six over midwicket.
As KKR crossed the midway stage, Venkatesh Iyer pulled Riley Meredith for back-to-back sixes in the 11th over, the second one a sweetly-timed pull over backward square leg.
The 28-year-old batter, who was dropped by Tilak Varma at deep cover off Shokeen reached the 90s with a six off Meredith, reaching the three-figure mark off 49 balls, hitting five fours and nine sixes in the process. He celebrated his first century in IPL with a streaky four off Meredith but the bowler had the last laugh off the next delivery Jansen caught him at short third-man, playing a reverse scoop -- his superb innings ending at 104.
Andre Russell hammered back-to-back six and four off Duan Jansen and though Rinku Singh was out for 18 (17 balls), caught by Wadhera off Jansen, offering a simple catch as he attempted to flat-bat a length ball over long-on. Russell remained unbeaten on 21 as KKR reached a total worth bowling at.
For Mumbai Indians, Hrithik Shoteen claimed 2-34 off his four overs while veteran Piyush Chawla finished with the most economical figures of 1-19 off his four overs.
Kolkata Knight Riders 185/6 in 20 overs (Venkatesh Iyer 104, Andre Russell 21 not out; Hrithik Shokeen 2-34, Piyush Chawla 1-19) against Mumbai Indians.