Both teams entered the match with six wins under their belts, meaning the pressure was on to move ahead as five teams fight it out for thee two remaining playoffs sports following Sunrisers and Chennai’s qualification and Delhi’s exit.
Left-arm chinaman spinner Kuldeep Yadav broke Rajasthan’s back as he picked up four top order wickets (4-20), including that of dangerman Jos Buttler to restrict Rajasthan to 142.
The target was always within reach once Kolkata decided to slow down and not take too many risks. They won by six wickets with two overs in hand.
RAJASTHAN ON THE ATTACK
Rajasthan opened the innings with Jos Buttler and Rahul Tripathi. It was as if they knew spinners were going to be the main threat on a sluggish surface at the Eden Gardens. Since Kolkata opened the innings with two rookie pacers – Shivam Mavi and Prasidh Krishna – Rajasthan went after the seamers with everything they had.
Tripathi threw the bat around and got edges to fly off his bat as he raced to 27 from 15. Buttler was in even more adventurous mood, probably celebrating his recall to the England Test side. He moved around the crease in the third over and played cuts and scoops to great effect, taking 28 runs – all through boundaries – off Mavi.
In fact, from the third ball of the second over – bowled by Krishna to Tripathi – to the six balls faced by Buttler off Mavi’s next were all dispatched to the boundary. The ten balls were hit for seven boundaries and three sixes.
SPINNERS PULL THINGS BACK
4 wickets for Kuldeep Yadav. Tossing it up beautifully. So good to see. And, sadly, will count as a horror season with the bat for Stokes.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) May 15, 2018
Once Tripathi was dismissed off a short ball from Andre Russell (2-13), the wheels started to come off Rajasthan’s innings.
Royals skipper Ajinkya Rahane played all around a full ball from Kuldeep to get bowled while attempting a reverse sweep. Top scorer Buttler (39) too departed in similar fashion as he failed to connect with a reverse sweep off Kuldeep properly to get caught at short third man.
Narine got Sanju Samson out lbw on a review while Kuleep had Stuart Binny stumped off a googly as the Royals went from 63-0 in 4.5 overs to 96-5 in 11.
Kuldeep finished off a superb night by catching the leading edge of Ben Stokes as Royals lost seven wickets for 44 runs in nine overs.
KOLKATA’S MANIC START
The Knight Riders took a leaf out of Rajasthan’s book as opener Narine took 20 runs from the first four balls of the innings bowled by off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham.
However, Narine went for one shot too many as a pull off Stokes resulted in a top edge to cover that ended his seven-ball 21.
KNIGHT RIDERS TAKE IT EASY
Kolkata knew all they needed to do was play out the overs as a required rate of seven an over was not beyond them. Even though they lost the wicket of Robin Uthappa after the dismissal of Narine, they did not panic. Chris Lynn (45 from 42) batted well within himself, as has been the case this IPL, while captain Dinesh Karthik finished things off with an unbeaten 41 from 31 deliveries.
In a crunch clash for both sides, Kolkata Knight Riders take on the Rajasthan Royals at the Eden Gardens on Tuesday. Both sides are currently level on 12 points each although the Knight Riders have a superior net run-rate compared to the Royals.
Knight Riders skipper Dinesh Karthik won the toss and elected to bowl first. Rajasthan got off to an electric start with 57 runs coming off the first three overs as Jos Buttler and Rahul Tripathi made merry.
However, Tripathi’s dismissal for 25 (17) triggered a huge collapse from the visitors with wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav finding his groove. Kuldeep picked up four wickets while conceding only 20 runs as Rajasthan Royals slumped to 134-8 at the end of the 17th over.
Ultimately, the Royals were bowled out for 142 runs with Buttler top-scoring once again for the side with 39 runs off 22 balls. In reply Sunil Narine’s seven-ball 21 gave the hosts a flying start with the bat. The Knight Riders were comfortably placed at 109-3 after 14 overs with Chris Lynn unbeaten on 48. In the end, the hosts won by six wickets with two overs to spare as Karthik remained unbeaten on 41 from 31 balls.
Get the latest updates from Tuesday’s match below.
However, while a first Test call-up since December 2016 will be cherished by Buttler, the news could not have come at a worse time for his IPL outfit Rajasthan Royals. Ajinkya Rahane’s men are currently involved in a cut-throat five-way race for two playoff spots.
The Royals will face Royal Challengers Bangalore at home in its final league match. With a victory against Bangalore being the minimum requirement for Rajasthan to qualify for the playoffs, they will dearly feel the absence of their in-form batsman.
With the first Test between England and Pakistan getting underway on May 24 at Lord’s, the England Test squad members are supposed to report for duty by May 17. This means that Buttler will miss the side’s clash against RCB on May 19 as well as the playoffs in case Rajasthan progress.
The Englishman has carried the playoff hopes for the franchise with five consecutive half-centuries since being moved to the top of the batting order.
The rest of Rajasthan’s batting-order has been off colour with Ben Stokes being woefully out of form with the bat.