He was 3 off 10 balls. And already ten overs had gone. So how did he end up with 97 runs?! Well, game awareness. It's the one thing every batsman needs to handle tough conditions.
County cricket helped me improve my inswingers - Aaron
Varun Aaron reflects on his brilliant performance with the ball for Rajasthan Royals on Thursday and underscores the importance of his county stint
Dinesh Karthik saw Shreyas Gopal - a spinner, and so the weak link on this green pitch - and took him for 19 runs in the 11th over. That got him going.
Then, he pulverised Jaydev Unadkat - who has only one weapon, the change of pace, and so is extremely predictable - for 35 in 14. And once he was in full flow, even Jofra Archer couldn't stop him, although Karthik did tilt the battle his way by doing something most finishers have done this IPL: take guard deep in his crease. That way he was set up for anything from the yorker to the bouncer. That's how he could flat-bat short balls for sixes over extra cover.
A captain's wicket
Three catching chances and a run-a-ball 14. That was Andre Russell tonight. It was bad. And Steven Smith had a lot to do with it turning out that way. The moment Kolkata Knight Riders' big-hitter came to the crease, he pressed into service his best wicket-taker on the night - Varun Aaron, his best match-winner - Archer, and his fastest bowler - Oshane Thomas. They bowled 71% of the deliveries faced by Russell in this game.
Now, this was a massive gamble. Smith was willing to bowl out his best bowlers in an effort to take out KKR's best batsman. And if Russell had weathered the onslaught, he could have feasted on the weaker bowlers. After all, Unadkat ended up bowling two of the last three overs of the innings.
Aaron in the green
It's been home disadvantage for KKR, playing much of this season on surfaces that have, largely, negated their spin-bowling strength. Things went to a whole other level on Thursday as Eden Gardens rolled out a very green surface with pace, bounce, carry and movement.
Rajasthan Royals loved the look of it and Aaron even started with a maiden; he's only ever bowled one of those before in his entire IPL career. Later on, he delivered a knockout knuckle ball, swinging it so far into Shubman Gill that he really had no reply.
Both Aaron and his partner - IPL debutant and express quick Thomas - bowled that hard, hit-the-deck length, rarely allowing the drive, and it had a clear effect. KKR's batsmen were rushed by the speed at which the ball came at them and were disconcerted by the movement on offer.
It was all reminiscent of the 2017 IPL, the first one after the Eden pitch was relaid, with fast bowlers picking up 65 wickets and spinners contributing a mere 25.
There were two things that made him so good against Royals. One, he hit an in-between length, not letting batsmen come forward and get to the pitch of the ball, or rock back to play the horizontal-bat shots. And two, his speed, which was in the 90kph range.
That is probably why neither Ajinkya Rahane nor Smith could cope with the balls they got out to even though they only turned very slightly. Both men were playing down the wrong line but the zip off the track meant they had no time to adjust.
In fact, in the second innings, the spinners became immensely effective, picking up 5 for 36 in eight overs (not including part-timer Nitish Rana) while seamers were walloped for 119 in 10.2.
With inputs from Srinath Sripath and Gaurav Sundararaman