Kolkata, May 15: The craft of Kuldeep Yadav. The pragmatism of Chris Lynn and Dinesh Karthik. And a dash of muscle by Andre Russel. Kolkata Knight Riders rode on those contrasting elements to emerge a six-wicket winner over Rajasthan Royals at the Eden Gardens here on Tuesday (May 15).
Rajasthan Royals got off the block like a 100M sprinter reaching 59 for no loss in a little over four overs. Jos Buttler and Rahul Tripathi imposed themselves on Kolkata Knight Riderss, who are now third on the table with 14 points , vehemently that another run feast loomed.
How wrong we were! The Royals lost 10 wickets for just 83 runs in 15 overs and ended up with a sub-par 142 all out with an over remaining in their innings. The Kolkata Knight Riders did not have much trouble chasing it down losing four wickets. Yes, the track was a tad slow and shot making was not all that easy but the Royals' batsmen did not have any answers to Kuldeep's chinaman.
He got rid of the home-bound English duo of Ben Stokes and Buttler, besides Stuart Binny and Ajinkya Rahane. The Royals' skipper Rahane and Buttler, who failed to notch up his sixth fifty on the trot, Buttler fell to reverse sweep.
Rahane missed the line and got castled and Buttler top-edged Kuldeep to Scanterbury-Searles on the edge of the circle. But that did not come before Buttler hammered Shivam Mavi, the India U19 star, for a sequence of 4, 6, 4, 4, 6, 4, a total of 28 runs. It was that period of time when the Royals openers creamed 10 boundary shots in as many balls.
Russel intervened at this juncture - hustling Tripathi with his extra pace and cramping him for room with a well-directed bouncer. Tripathi's attempt to pull resulted only in a faint edge to Karthik behind the stumps.
The dismissal was just the beginning as Kolkata Knight Riders rushed in through the creek. But the dismissals of Binny and Stokes stood out for the excellence of their execution. Binny could not pick up a googly and in his effort to meet the ball as early as possible to smother any hint of spin, the Royals' batsman failed to plant his back foot on the crease. Karthik did the rest in a flash.
If Binny failed to read that particular googly, Stokes was not reading anything. He tried to read Kuldeep, who was bowling around the wicket to Stokes, off the pitch but the England all-rounder could only manage to produce a return catch while playing a flick.
With Sunil Narine trapping Sanju Samson in front of the wicket, the hopes of Royals to post a competitive total vanished. But chasing even if it is a relatively easier 143, in a must-win game can have its own pressure.
Narine smashed offie K Gowtham for 21 runs in the first over of Kolkata Knight Riders innings - 6, 4, 6, 4, 1 and it was the most expensive first over of this IPL till date. Narine departed in the next over, miscuing a pull off Stokes and Gowtham had a small consolation as he took the catch to dismiss the Trinidadian.
But a mature 48-run stand between Lynn (45, 42b, 5x4, 1x6) and Karthik (41 n.o., 31b, 5x4, 1x6) ensured that Kolkata Knight Riders reach near the target and the journey was completed when Russel came up with a few of those archetypal beefy blows.