Kolkata Knight Riders delivered a professional performance to beat Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets here tonight, putting their IPL campaign back on track with back-to-back victories. The highly-rated KKR spinners restricted Royals to 160 for eight before opener Robin Uthappa (48 off 36 balls), Nitish Rana ( 35* off 27 ) and captain Dinesh Karthik (42* off 23) did the job with the bat as the visitors cruised to victory in 18.5 overs. It was a second emphatic performance in a row for KKR, who now have three wins from five games. Royals have lost two games out of the four they have played. The away team was always in control of the chase despite losing Chris Lynn in the first over.
Uthappa put up a show that is expected of him, entertaining the crowd with a blazing knock that comprised six fours and two sixes. Captain Karthik then batted responsibly alongside Rana, taking KKR home comfortably. Earlier Royals, put in to bat, were not able to build on the start provided by captain Ajinkya Rahane (36 off 19) and D’Arcy Short (44 off 43) after the openers shared a 54-run stand off 41 balls. The trio of Piyush Chawla (1/18), Kuldeep Yadav (1/23) and part-timer Nitish Rana (2/11) conceded 52 runs in 10 overs, sharing four wickets amongst themselves. KKR’s lead-spinner Sunil Narine had an off-day as the West Indian went wicketless and leaked 48 runs in four overs.
Pacer Tom Curran (2/19) chipped in with a couple of wickets towards the end. The highlight of Rahane’s knock was hitting Narine for four consecutive boundaries in his opening over. His innings ended when KKR skipper and wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik effected a brilliant run-out after collecting the ball from in front of the stumps. Rahane’s opening partner Short ended up with his highest score in the tournament so far but it was not one of his fluent knocks. The Australian, used to playing on bouncy pitches back home, later said he is still getting used to the low bounce in his maiden IPL stint. The in-form Sanju Samson (7) getting out cheaply also hurt the home team which could never get a move-on with wickets falling at regular intervals.
KKR began with the spin from both sides and Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav kept things tights, conceding nine runs in the first three overs. Rahane welcomed Narine in the next over hitting him for four consecutive boundaries as the over went for 18 runs. The following over from pacer Shivam Mavi too produced 13 runs, giving the innings a much-needed impetus. However, Royals did not get a big enough partnership thereafter as KKR spinners continued to control the innings. An 18-ball 24 from Jos Buttler in the death overs helped Royals get past the 150-run mark.