Kolkata Knight Riders consolidated their third position on the IPL table after a six-wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals here at the Eden Gardens on Tuesday.
Royals, asked to bat first, suffered a stunning collapse that left Kolkata with a relatively straightforward chase of 143 to keep their hopes of 16 points alive. Royals had rocketed to 59 for 0 in just four overs before Kuldeep Yadav put the spanner in their work. The visitiors lost all their wickets in the next 15 overs for the addition of only 83 runs. Kuldeep finished with figures of 4 for 20, that fetched him the man of the match honour.
Kolkata appeared to make a heavy weather of an easy target but skipper Dinesh Karthik (41 n.o.) shepherded the chase with a calm approach. Kolkata reached 145 for four with still two overs left in the innings. With this win, Kolkata moved to 14 points from seven wins while Royals remained on 12 points from 13 outings.
Kuldeep’s magical four-wicket spell flummoxed Royals as Knight Riders brilliantly turned it around with a superb bowling show. RR were looking ominous after four overs, already their highest inside the powerplay, before the home side triggered a batting collapse in the middle overs by taking six wickets for 31 runs.
With none of their middle-order batsmen showing any fight, it would have been worse for RR but No. 8 Jaydev Unadkat struck 26 from 18 balls (3x4, 1x6) before Prasidh Krishna dismissed him to end the innings in the 19th over.
The India chinaman bowler had a nightmarish outing in their last game here, leaking 43 runs in three overs against Mumbai Indians but it was a different evening as he turned it around with his best show of 4/20.
Shouldering extra responsibility in the absence of an injured Piyush Chawla (side strain), Kuldeep’s magic arm completely exposed RR’s frailty in tackling spin, as his four-for included the prized wicket of Jos Buttler.
Coming in the eighth over, Kuldeep ran through his four overs and took a wicket in each of them to help KKR bounce back from a poor start.
Kuldeep started off by cleaning up RR skipper Ajinkya Rahane who continued his woeful form to get out for 11 and in the next over he denied Buttler a record sixth straight fifty.
Buttler too attempted a reverse sweep like Rahane but holed out at third man by Javon Searles. It was Andre Russell (2/13 from three overs) who used his short-pitch ball strategy to full effect to dismiss Rahul Tripathi for 27 (15 balls; 4x4, 1x6). Thereafter, KKR seized the momentum riding on Kuldeep and Sunil Narine’s tidy show (1/29).
Earlier, Mavi almost dismissed Tripathi first ball with an unplayable delivery in a superb first over.
But what unfolded from the second over was a series of boundaries and sixes from Buttler and Tripathi in a run sequence that read 6-4-4-4-4-6-4-4-6-4 as RR cruised to 50 in 20 balls. Promoted to open the innings, Tripathi turned it around against Prasidh Krishna after the probing Mavi over, smashing the seamer for a six, followed by a hat-trick of boundaries.
Mavi came to bowl in the third over, and it was time for the in-form Buttler to explode with a series of boundaries and sixes as the youngster bled 28 runs.