Text by Suhas Nayse & video by Taus Rizvi – SJFI Members
The presence of Bollywood superstar and Kolkata Knight Riders’ co-owner Shah Rukh Khan seemed to have inspired the two-time champions as they came up with a much better performance to halt the dream run of Rajasthan Royals on Wednesday. The twelfth match of the Dream11 Indian Premier League at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium delivered one of the most one-sided results of this IPL season.
It was a thoroughly professional execution by the Dinesh Karthik-led side as it stopped the two-match winning streak of Rajasthan Royals. Asked to bat first by Rajasthan Royals skipper Steve Smith, KKR put up a competitive total of 174 for 6. Then their bowlers complimented the efforts of batsmen with a penetrative bowling show which floored Royals as they crashed to a disappointing 37-run defeat.
The loss of three top-order batsmen cheaply – Steve Smith (3), Sanju Samson (8) and Robin Uthappa (2) – was a fatal blow to the Royals from which they could never recover. Samson and Smith have been in an excellent touch but failed to deliver against a disciplined bowling unit of KKR. Royals lost wickets at regular intervals as they succumbed to ever-increasing asking rate.
Tom Curran waged a lone battle and remained unbeaten on 54 (36 balls, 2×4, 3×6). He tried his best but ran out of partners at the other end as they were restricted to 137 for 9. Besides Curran, only opener Jos Butler (21) and last match hero Rahul Tewatia (14) managed to reach double-digit scores. Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi and Varun Chakravarthy claimed a couple each, while Pat Cummings, Kuldeep Yadav and Sunil Narine took a wicket apiece.
Earlier, Rajasthan Royals did well to restrict a strong KKR batting line-up to 174 for 6. Shubman Gill, Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell flourished with their willows to boost the total.
Gill (47: 34 balls, 5×4, 1×6) did no harm to his growing reputation as he produced yet another glorious knock. Last match hero Gill and Sunil Narine (15: 14 balls, 2×4, 1×6) gave KKR a solid start. Nitish Rana (22: 17 balls, 2×4, 1×6) then maintained the momentum with Gill.
The stylish opener missed his second half century of the season by just three runs when he mistimed a pull and Jofra Archer made no mistake in his follow through. Russell blasted 24 off just 14 balls which included three huge sixes. The giant batsman was caught by Jaydev Unadkat at the boundary line off Ankit Rajpoot.
Eoin Morgan signed off the innings in style by cracking an undefeated 34 off 23 deliveries. The English southpaw hit a couple of big sixes to bolster the KKR innings. Archer was the pick of the RR bowlers with two for 18 from his four-over spell. Tewatia, Jaydev Unadkat, Tom Curran and Ankit Rajpoot chipped in with a wicket apiece.
With this second successive comfortable win, KKR, champions in 2012 and 2014, jumped to the second spot with four points, while RR slipped to the third place.
On Thursday, defending champions Mumbai Indians will square off against Kings XI Punjab at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. It was the fourth match for both the teams, who have two points to their credit.
Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 174 for 6 in 20 overs (Shubman Gill 47, Eoin Morgan 34 not out, Andre Russell 24, Nitish Rana 22, Sunil Narine 15, Pat Cummins 12, Kamlesh Nagarkoti 8 not out; Jofra Archer 2-18, Rahul Tewatia 1-6, Jaydev Unadkat 1-14, Tom Curran 1-37, Ankit Rajpoot 1-39) beat Rajasthan Royals 137 for 9 in 20 overs (Tom Curran 54 not out, Jos Butler 21, Rahul Tewatia 14; Kamlesh Nagarkoti 2-13, Shivam Mavi 2-20, Varun Chakravarthy 2-25, Pat Cummings 1-13, Kuldeep Yadav 1-20, Sunil Narine 1-40) by 37 runs. Man-of-the-match: Shivam Mavi (KKR).