MLC Match 1 Review: TSK vs LAKR
The wait for Major League Cricket finally ended as the Texas Super Kings took on the LA Knight Riders in the 1st ever game of the tournament. After winning the toss, Sunil Narine and the Knight Riders decided to bowl first in Dallas, Texas.
Opening the bowling for LA was Ali Khan. He was up against arguably the best opening duo of the tournament, Faf Du Plessis and Devon Conway. Conway started the tournament off with a flourish, scoring 12 runs off the first over. Lockie Ferguson, coming in from the other end, was able to give LA the early advantage though as he picked up Du Plessis off his 1st delivery. After losing their captain early, Lahiru Milantha joined forces with Conway as the two began building a partnership out in the middle. Milantha is a very prolific run scorer in tournaments across the US and was the leading run scorer in the Atlantic Conference of MiLC 2022. Just as he was starting to get going with a couple of good looking shots under his belt, Milantha ended up hitting a full toss straight up in the air and Narine made no mistake at the edge of the 30 yard circle.
The new man in was the destructive David Miller. While they may have been more a week late, his fireworks had the crowd on their feet. Miller's 77 run partnership with Conway lit up the stadium and provided the Super Kings with an exceptional base moving into the latter part of the innings. The duo took on the likes of Zampa, Dry, and Russell in the middle overs. Conway, with the help of 2 dropped catches, ended up scoring 55 from just 37 deliveries before his dismissal. With 7 overs to go, and Texas in a good position, Milind Kumar walked out to bat. Milind was the leading run scorer in the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy and also played a critical role as the captain of the Philadelphians in MiLC. Unfortunately, he couldn't make too big of a contribution as the captain of LA, Sunil Narine, trapped him in front, bringing his side right back into the contest.
In at number 6 was Mitchell Santner, who had a bit role to play alongside Miller. Going into the final four overs, the Super Kings had 133 on the board. They first spoiled Narine's figures taking his final over for 15 runs. Ferguson then came back in the 18th over and conceded just 3 runs, more importantly picking up the big wicket of Miller. Texas were eventually able to get 30 off the final 2 overs, with Bravo clearing the boundary on a couple of occasions, as the side ended on 181/6 in their 20 overs.
Needing 182 to win the first ever game of MLC, Martin Guptill and Unmukt Chand had a job on their hands early on for LA. Rusty Theron started the innings off with a magnificent delivery just beating the outside edge of Guptill. A couple of balls later, the New Zealander ended up hitting a lofted shot straight to Bravo at mid on as LA lost their first wicket without a run on the board. Roussow, in at 3, hit a nice boundary, but chopped on the next ball. 2 down at the end of the first over, the Knight Riders were in a spot of bother. In at number 4, Nitish Kumar's stay at the crease also didn't last long as he departed without scoring, leaving LA at 7/3 after 2 overs. Malhotra, the new man in, gave LA fans something to cheer about with a couple of good looking shots to start his innings off. At the other end, Chand departed to a stump breaking delivery from Coetzee, as the Knight Riders sunk further.
The hard hitting Andre Russell got off the mark with a boundary, and followed it up with a maximum on the next ball. Despite having lost 4 wickets very early on, Russell joined forces with Malhotra in taking the attack to the opposition. Just as the two were looking good, Coetzee rattled Malhotra's stumps and left LA 5 down for just 56 runs. The captain, Sunil Narine, needing to lead from the front, walked out to the middle at number 7. These two were the last recognized batsmen for the Knight Riders, and needed to put together something very special. While they did make a 47 run partnership, Narine's wicket held them back. Corne Dry's stay at the other end lasted just a couple of deliveries as Mohammed Mohsin ended up getting two wickets in the over. With all hopes resting on the shoulders of Andre Russell, there is only so much the West Indian could do, as he edged one to the delight of Conway behind the stumps. Mohsin then picked up a couple of wickets in his next over to wrap the innings up as the Knight Riders got bowled out for just 112 in 14 overs.
An innings of 2 parts this was for the LA Knight Riders. They lost 20/4 up front, and then 9/5 at the back end. Andre Russell, top scoring with 55, gave LA fans a glimmer of hope in the game, but in the end, they fell short by a huge margin of 69 runs. The Texas Super Kings have made history in the opening encounter of the tournament as they secure the first ever win of Major League Cricket.