ROY­ALS IN KUL-DEEP TROU­BLE

Spin­ner Ya­dav picks up four as Kolkata inch to­wards IPL play-offs with six-wicket win, while Ra­jasthan’s qual­i­fi­ca­tion hopes fade

Sport360 - - Front Page - By Ajit Vi­jayku­mar @Sport360 ed­i­to­rial@sport360.com

Kolkata Knight Rid­ers kept their IPL play­offs alive as they cruised to a six-wicket vic­tory over Ra­jasthan Roy­als on Tues­day.

Both teams en­tered the match with six wins un­der their belts, mean­ing the pres­sure was on to move ahead as five teams fight it out for thee two play-offs sports fol­low­ing Sun­ris­ers and Chen­nai’s qual­i­fi­ca­tion and Delhi’s exit.

Left-arm chi­na­man spin­ner Kuldeep Ya­dav broke Ra­jasthan’s back as he picked up four top or­der wick­ets (4-20), in­clud­ing that of dan­ger­man Jos But­tler to re­strict Ra­jasthan to 142. The tar­get was al­ways within reach once Kolkata de­cided to slow down and not take too many risks. They won by six wick­ets with two overs in hand.

Ra­jasthan on the at­tack

Ra­jasthan opened the in­nings with Jos But­tler and Rahul Tri­pathi. It was as if they knew spin­ners were go­ing to be the main threat on a slug­gish sur­face at the Eden Gar­dens. Since Kolkata opened the in­nings with two rookie pac­ers – Shivam Mavi and Prasidh Kr­ishna – Ra­jasthan went af­ter the seam­ers with ev­ery­thing they had.

Tri­pathi threw the bat around and got edges to fly off his bat as he raced to 27 from 15. But­tler was in even more ad­ven­tur­ous mood, prob­a­bly cel­e­brat­ing his re­call to the Eng­land Test side. He moved around the crease in the third over and played cuts and scoops to great ef­fect, tak­ing 28 runs – all through bound­aries – off Mavi.

In fact, from the third ball of the sec­ond over – bowled by Kr­ishna to Tri­pathi – to the six balls faced by But­tler off Mavi’s next were all dis­patched to the bound­ary. The ten balls were hit for seven bound­aries and three sixes.

Spin­ners hit back

Once Tri­pathi was dis­missed off a short ball from An­dre Rus­sell (213), the wheels started to come off Ra­jasthan’s in­nings.

Roy­als skip­per Ajinkya Ra­hane played all around a full ball from Kuldeep to get bowled while at­tempt­ing a re­v­erse sweep. Top scorer But­tler (39) too de­parted in sim­i­lar fash­ion as he failed to con­nect with a re­v­erse sweep off Kuldeep prop­erly to get caught at short third man. Narine got Sanju Sam­son out lbw on a re­view while Kuleep had Stu­art Binny stumped off a goo­gly as the Roy­als went from 63-0 in 4.5 overs to 96-5 in 11.

Kuldeep fin­ished off a su­perb night by catch­ing the lead­ing edge of Ben Stokes as Roy­als lost seven wick­ets for 44 runs in nine overs.

KKR take it easy

Kolkata knew all they needed to do was play out the overs as a re­quired rate of seven an over was not be­yond them. Even though they lost the wicket of Robin Uthappa af­ter the dis­missal of Su­nil Narine, they did not panic. Chris Lynn (45 from 42) bat­ted well within him­self, as has been the case this IPL, while cap­tain Di­nesh Karthik fin­ished things off with an un­beaten 41 from 31 de­liv­er­ies.

Slow and steady: Chris Lynn made 45 from 42 balls for Kolkata.

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