By Suhas Nayse – SJFI Member
DUBAI: Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Eoin Morgan led from the front to steer his team to a much-needed 60-run victory against Rajasthan Royals in the Dream11 Indian Premier League at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday. The 54th match of the season was a do-or-die affair for both the teams. Before the game the equation was simple, the winner will stay while the loser will pack their bags.
In the end, KKR emerged victors as RR once again missed the qualifying bus. Morgan inspired KKR with his match-winning innings of 68 not out. KKR bowlers complimented the efforts of their leader with a splendid bowling performance.
With this win, KKR now have jumped from the eighth spot to the fourth by taking their points tally to 14. Despite the comfortable win, KKR will have to wait for the results of the last two matches — Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Delhi Capitals (Monday) and Mumbai Indians vs Sunrisers Hyderabad (Tuesday) – to know their fate as far as making the playoffs is concerned. RR ended their campaign on a disappointing note with 12 points and finished last in the eight-team competition.
Chasing a herculean target of 192, RR were rattled by KKR pacers in the powerplay by dismissing their top five batsmen. An outstanding spell of fast bowling by Pat Cummins decimated RR as they found the Aussie speedster too hot to handle. Cummings, who was later declared man-of-the-match, returned with impressive figures of 4-0-34-4. Young seamer Shivam Mavi (2-15) and tall leggie Varun Chakravarthy (2-20) also bowled superbly, while Kamlesh Nagarkoti chipped in with a wicket.
Earlier put in to bat, KKR amassed 191 for 7 thanks mainly to Morgan’s blistering knock. The dashing southpaw posted his highest score this season after a series of 30-odd scores. Morgan’s unbeaten 68 came off only 35 balls. The captain hammered five boundaries and six huge sixes and ended up with a strike rate of 194.2. He was involved in a good partnership with Rahul Tripathi (39). Shubman Gill (36), Andre Russel (25) and Pat Cummins (15) also batted well to boost the total.
Leg-spinner Rahul Tewatia scalped 3 for 25, while nippy medium-pacer Kartik Tyagi claimed 2 for 36.
On Monday in the penultimate match of the competition, Royal Challengers Bangalore will clash with Delhi Capitals at Abu Dhabi. Both teams have 14 points to their credit. The winner of the contest will certainly qualify for the playoffs.
Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 191 for 7 in 20 overs (Eoin Morgan 68 not out, Rahul Tripathi 39, Shubman Gill 36, Andre Russel 25, Pat Cummins 15; Rahul Tewatia 3-25, Kartik Tyagi 2-36, Jofra Archer 1-19, Shreyas Gopal 1-44) beat Rajasthan Royals 131 for 9 in 20 overs (Jos Buttler 35, Rahul Tewatia 31, Shreyas Gopal 23 not out, Ben Stokes 18; Pat Cummins 4-34, Shivam Mavi 2-15, Varun Chakravarthy 2-20, Kamlesh Nagarkoti 1-24) by 60 runs. Man-of-the-match: Pat Cummins (KKR).