Russell's knock: 3 in 5, a reprieve, then 45 off 12
And yet, keeping with his excellent recent spurt in white-ball form, Shami delivered three near-perfect yorkers to Russell to start with. The third one got Russell neck and crop from around the wicket: a well-thought-out plan, executed to perfection.
But Russell wasn't out. And the game turned. Kings XI had made a schoolboy error, placing only three fielders inside the circle. Shami's wicket turned into a no-ball, gave Russell a second chance, and ended up activating Russell's beast mode. He went on to smash eight consecutive boundaries after that, muscling his way to 48 off 17 balls, 45 of them coming after that reprieve.
By the end of that innings, Shami's record had only worsened: ten sixes conceded off 22 balls, numbers which do grave injustice (and pay no heed) to how well he nailed those three yorkers at the start. Something for Luck Index to tell us more about, then.
Why do IPL teams feed Narine with spin in the Powerplay?
A quick look at his stats say that he gets out often (six times in 17 innings) to spin, but just look at the common thread between some of his most destructive innings: his fastest fifty came after smashing fellow Trinidadian Samuel Badree for 30 off ten balls. Last year, he went after Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal en route to a 17-ball fifty.
So after R Ashwin brought on mystery spinner - and millionaire - Varun Chakravarthy for the second over of the innings, the familiar script played out all over again. Kings XI coach Mike Hesson explained at the post-match presser that they brought Varun on to take on Lynn, who has struggled against mystery spin in the past. The match-up went out of hand once Lynn took a single first ball to bring Narine on strike. After getting hit for a six, Varun spilled a tough chance off a full-blooded Narine drive next ball, and things only went downhill from there: four, six, six to hand him the most expensive first over in IPL history.
All things considered, was the punt really worth it?
Because, here's the flipside: Narine strikes at a towering 259 against spinners in IPL Powerplays, and takes a fancy to lack of pace on the ball early on. Most tellingly, despite how improved he has become as a T20 hitter, the short ball still gets him out regularly. Mohammed Shami almost got him with one in the third over, before Hardus Viljoen sent him back minutes later, with his third ball in the IPL.
Narine might have got just 24, but it was made in modern-KKR style: chancy yet fearless, off just nine balls, carrying them to a 53-run Powerplay, without worrying one bit about losing his wicket.
Russell and Narine's assaults meant Knight Riders' Manhattan had some stunning skyscrapers: three massive overs went in excess of 22, only for the fourth time in IPL history, and the first time in a game not played in Bengaluru.
Knight Riders get the Powerplay combination right
It's not often in a game at Eden Gardens that you go through the Powerplay with the Knight Riders pace bowlers in operation all the way.
Their spin attack is among the most complete in the T20 franchise world - a mystery spinner in Sunil Narine, a left-arm wristspinner in Kuldeep Yadav, and a legspinner in Piyush Chawla - and they typically use them over the course of the innings in different roles, starting with Narine and/or Chawla in the Powerplay.
But on Wednesday, for only the third time in the last 18 games at Eden, none of the three bowled a single over in the first six, as Dinesh Karthik stuck with an all-pace plan.
Here's why that could have been: Chris Gayle and KL Rahul have great records against the likes of Chawla (strike rate 181) and Narine (231) over the years, leading to Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson and Andre Russell starting proceedings.
As it turned out, the openers fell in contrasting fashions. Rahul went through with his shot too early against Ferguson, and Gayle was beaten for pace and done in by Russell's steep bounce. It was a double-whammy for Kings XI: they had 12 overs of spin to face, and had lost the two batsmen who had carried them to victory in the corresponding fixture last season.
With inputs from Gaurav Sundararaman