Jaipur, April 17: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) skipper Dinesh Karthik led from the front after his bowlers put up a clinical show to beat Rajasthan Royals by 7 wickets in their Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 encounter.
Chasing a gettable target of 161 in the stipulated 20 overs, KKR overhauled it in 18.5 overs and brought an end to Rajasthan's unbeaten streak at Sawai Mansingh Stadium.
With this convincing win over Rajasthan, Kolkata have climbed at the top of the points table. The boys in Purple and Gold have played 5 games so far and won three of them.
Robin Uthappa (48 off 36 balls) was the top scorer for Kolkata as he laid the foundation for the visitors in the run chase after opener Chris Lynn was dismissed for nought in the first over by Krishappa Gowtham when he came out to bat. The Australian failed to read the off-break delivery as he tried to cut it but was completely beaten by the turn and the ball uprooted his middle stump.
Having got a scalp in the very first over, the hosts felt there was an opportunity for them but Uthappa, who has been KKR's backbone over the years, didn't give any chance to the bowlers to rejoice.
Uthappa along with Narine steadied the innings and took the team's score to 53/1 at the end of the powerplay. Both the batsmen batted with aggression and added 69 runs for the second wicket before Narine (35 off 25) was run out by Jos Buttler.
Narine, who was ineffective with the ball, made up for that by making another valuable contribution with the bat. Nitish Rana, KKR's hero in the previous game, once again made most of the opportunity as he carried his bat through.
Rana played a sublime knock of 27-ball 35* and stitched a partnership of 32 runs with Uthappa and with skipper Karthik he added 61 runs for the third wicket. He and Karthik, who once again batted brilliantly and saw his team home, never looked off the track in the run chase.
Karthik, who is looking in great touch with the bat, played some elegant strokes and finished things off in style by hitting Ben Laughlin for a maximum over long-on. The Tamil Nadu cricketer finished on an impressive 42 not out from 23 deliveries as KKR got over the line with both seven wickets and seven balls to spare.
It was a convincing win for KKR who looked comfortable throughout their innings as everybody contributed after the early wicket. For Rajasthan only Gowtham could keep things tight, picking up a couple of wickets in the process.
KKR fully deserved the victory after ensuring the Royals' innings was disjointed and despite racking up 160, they always looked a few short of a good total here. With this humiliating defeat at the hands of KKR, Royals' streak of 9 consecutive IPL wins and 14 consecutive T20 wins in Jaipur came to an end.
With the defeat against KKR, Rajasthan Royals' streak of 9 consecutive IPL wins and 14 consecutive T20 wins in Jaipur comes to an end. #RRvKKR— Bharath Seervi (@SeerviBharath) April 18, 2018
KKR move to the joint top of the table, admittedly having played a couple more games than the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Meanwhile, Rajasthan remain stuck in the middle with two victories and two defeats. We're still in the early days of this tournament and there's a lot to play for, both sides will be raring to go in their next fixture.
Earlier, Kolkata bowlers put up another impressive show with the ball, even though their key bowler Sunil Narine, went for runs to restrict Rajasthan Royals to 160/8.
D'Arcy Short, who couldn't do much with the bat in the last three innings, top-scored for Royals with 44 off 43 deliveries while skipper Ajinkya Rahane (36 off 19) was the second highest scorer for the side.
Royals were off to a blistering start as Rahane attacked KKR bowlers in the powerplay overs. The right-handed batsman welcomed KKR's trump card and mystery spinner, Sunil Narine, in style as he smashed four consecutive boundaries in his very first over. Narine leaked 18 runs from his first over and remained wicketless and conceded 48 runs from his quota of 4 overs. This would be the West Indian's costliest overs in his IPL career.
Royals struggled against KKR bowlers in the middle overs and kept losing wickets at regular intervals. The other recognised batsmen Sanju Samson (7), Rahul Tripathi (15), Ben Stokes (14), and K Gowtham (12) failed to live up to deliver as they departed without doing much damage to the visiting side.
Five most expensive buys at this year's auction:— Bharath Seervi (@SeerviBharath) April 18, 2018
Only one has proved his worth yet - Rahul!#IPL2018
Jos Buttler remained unbeaten on 24 (off 18) and took the hosts to a respectable total of 160 for the loss of eight wickets to ensure the bowlers have something to defend on a pitch that wasn't looking too easy to bat on.
Piyush Chawla, who opened the bowling for the visitors, emerged as the most economical bowler for his side. The leg-spinner conceded just 18 runs from his quota of 4 overs and bagged all important wicket of Ben Stokes.
Kuldeep Yadav, who was operated by the skipper from the second over, too remained clinical with his effort. The Chinaman (1/23) was equally good from the other end and troubled the hosts.
Nitish Rana (2-0-11-2) and Tom Curran (2-0-19-2) played their roles well while young Shivam Mavi (4-0-40-1) went for few runs but his bowling effort must have given him some confidence for he bowled his full quota of 4 overs.