New Delhi: Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Dinesh Karthik seems to be taking the art of learning from Captain Cool Mahendra Singh Dhoni a little too literally as he once again guided a chase to perfection as Kolkata Knight Riders inched closer to a place in the playoffs with a convincing 6-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals at the picturesque Eden Gardens on Tuesday. The icing on the cake was the six Karthik (unbeaten on 41) hit to finish the game. Taking nothing away from opener Chris Lynn’s patient knock, it was the perfect display of batsmanship from the two senior members of the KKR outfit.
But it all started with another whirlwind show from Sunil Narine. Starting the chase of 143, Narine hit a six, a four, a six and another four in the very first over to send Gowtham packing. While Ben Stokes did dismiss Narine (21) in the second over of the innings, the initial damage had been done and the ship was already set on course. Stokes then sent back Robin Uthappa (4), caught by Rahul Tripathi as the score read 36/2.
The KKR outfit didn’t panic as Nitish Rana joined Lynn in the middle and the two put on 33 runs for the third wicket as the shoulders of the RR players started to droop. But that is when Ish Sodi sent back Rana (21). The joy was short-lived as Lynn and DK then took over and ensured that they batted RR out of the game.
When Stokes finally dismissed Lynn for 45, Kolkata meeded only 26 off 28 balls with 6 wickets in the bag. After that, it was DK who held fort and Kolkata cruised home with Andre Russell giving him company on unbeaten 11.
Earlier, Dinesh Karthik won the toss and decided to bowl at the Eden Gardens. The move seemed to initially backfire as Rajasthan Royals were sitting pretty at 59/0 after 4 overs as both Jos Buttler and Rahul Tripathi were off to a flyer, taking apart the Kolkata bowling. But Andre Russell struck against the run of play as a bouncer caught the glove of Tripathi (27) and Karthik completed an easy catch.
From 63/1, it soon became 76/2 as Kuldeep got the wicket of skipper Ajinkya Rahane. Having settled down well in the company of Buttler, Rahane (11) suddenly decided to play the reverse sweep and the ball went through the gate and cleaned him up. The wicket seemed to suddenly bring a sense of optimism in the Kolkata camp after the early onslaught and they kept trying to put pressure on the Rajasthan batsmen.
Buttler who looked in complete control till then, suddenly lost his calm and tried to bring the reverse sweep into the game and the shot got Kolkata another wicket as the ball landed straight into the hands of Searles at short third-man. With Buttler (39) gone, it was now on Sanju Samson and Ben Stokes to stitch together a partnership. With just 10 overs done with and the score reading a healthy 92/3, both the batsmen had enough time to play themselves in.
But Narine struck once again and this time it was Samson (12) who was caught plumb in front. While it looked high initially, the DRS came into the picture and Kolkata were rewarded for calling it correct. The scorecard suddenly looked dodgy at 96/4 and Kuldeep wasn’t done here as he next sent back Stuart Binny (1), stumped beautifully by DK. Shivam Mavi then accounted for the dangerous Gowtham (3), once again the disconcerting bounce doing the trick for KKR.
And when Kuldeep picked Stokes (11), caught and bowled in the most docile manner, the writing was definitely on the wall for the Royals as the score read 107/7 in the 14th over. After that, it was all about stretching the score to as far as possible and trying to play out the allotted 20 overs. In the end, they managed 142 with the Royals batsmen falling one over short, dismissed in the 19th of the innings.