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Spin does the trick for KKR

Brad Hogg celebrates the wicket of Shikhar Dhawan BCCI

At around the three-quarter mark of Sunrisers Hyderabad's doomed-from-the-start chase at Eden Gardens, Piyush Chawla's pitch map came up on the big screen. The TV commentators, presumably, were discussing the lengths he was bowling.

Chawla was in the middle of a strangulating spell, and eventually finished with figures of 1 for 16 in four overs, so a look at his pitch map was par for the course. The grouping of deliveries looked pretty good too. But on another day, on a different pitch, he might have bowled exactly the same balls in exactly the same sequence and gone for twice as many runs. On this day, pitch maps were just so much meaningless techno-wizardry.

A little while earlier, another bit of techno-wizardry had popped up on the big screen. This was more revealing. It was the ball-tracker, showing how much one of Chawla's legbreaks had turned. It had turned a long way. Piyush Chawla's legbreaks barely turn on most days.

It was that kind of pitch, and it was on the cards right from the time the two teams were announced. Sunrisers, who usually play one spinner, were playing two. Kolkata Knight Riders, who usually play two, were playing three.

Both teams knew there would be turn, but over the course of the match it became clear only one team really knew how to use that to their advantage. It helped them, of course, that this happened to be their home ground.

Sunrisers knew it would spin, but their captain, David Warner, turned to his spinners only after the Powerplay had ended, even though Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa had gotten off to a flier against his seam attack, and raced to 55 for 0 in the first six overs. Karn Sharma's introduction immediately turned the tide, the legspinner producing one that dipped and bounced to take the top edge of Gambhir's sweep.

The two Sharmas, Karn and Bipul, bowled out their eight overs in one go. They conceded only 6.50 runs an over in that time, and picked up three wickets. For good measure, Knight Riders also lost Manish Pandey to a run out.

During that spell of spin from both ends, it was amply evident that going hard at the spinners was going to be difficult. Uthappa, trying to make room, found himself too far from the ball as it spun sharply away from him, and spooned a catch to short cover. Andre Russell holed out slog-sweeping against the turn. Balls routinely popped into the off side off the leading edge when batsmen looked to work the ball with a closed face.

But there was no more spin for the rest of the innings, and the last six overs went for 60. To be fair to Warner, he didn't have any other realistic spin option - he might have had to turn to his own occasional legbreaks or Hanuma Vihari's largely untested offspin. At this point he might have yearned for a more regular part-timer, someone like Kane Williamson, perhaps.

Warner might have yearned even more for Williamson, the batsman, for he is part of a rare and shrinking set of modern batsmen who can negate the effect of spin-friendly surfaces with their footwork. He can do it in Twenty20 too - as he showed while playing for Northern Knights in last year's Champions League T20.

Pandey, the only Knight Riders batsman who had briefly got on top of Sunrisers' spinners, had employed Williamson's method. Having jumped down the pitch to Karn to launch him for a straight six, he had waited deep in his crease to the next ball and cut him away precisely through point.

No other batsman, on either side, used their feet in that manner. Williamson might have.

Once they lost two wickets in their first over, a Sunrisers win was always going to be unlikely. You could argue that Umesh Yadav's double-strike made it easy for Knight Riders to bring their spinners on early. Johan Botha bowled the fourth over, Brad Hogg the fifth. But having picked three frontline spinners, you could also argue that Gambhir would have had to bring them on in the Powerplay in any case.

Botha sent down a tight first over of quick, flat offspin. Hogg dismissed Shikhar Dhawan with a long-hop, and had a big, close shout for lbw turned down against Eoin Morgan. The batsmen were struggling to read his flipper and googly. Chawla settled into a rhythm, and enjoyed the rare feeling of turning his legbreaks.

Apart from one expensive over from Yusuf Pathan, there was no outlet for the batsmen. The pressure mounted, the wickets fell. Two fell to run-outs and Sunrisers were six down inside 12 overs. Game over.

But not before Sunrisers were given another reminder of what could have been. Botha came back to bowl the 18th over, and Karn smacked him for three successive, futile sixes. Between deliveries, Botha was walking up to the umpire and wiping the ball down with a towel. Dew had set in.

Sunrisers might well have anticipated dew; maybe it was their reason for bowling first. But they wouldn't have imagined they would be so far out of the game by the time it came into play.