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
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.