The Kolkata Knight Riders climbed to the top of the VIVO IPL 2018 standings after they defeated the Rajasthan Royals by 7 wickets on Wednesday evening. After opting to field, KKR restricted the hosts to 160-8 and then chased down the required runs quite comfortably; captain Dinesh Karthik finished the job in style when he deposited Ben Laughlin into the stands at midwicket. KKR got across the line with 7 balls to spare, and their win ended the Royals' 9-match winning streak at home.
Earlier in the evening, Ajinkya Rahane and D'Arcy Short gave the Rajasthan Royals the perfect platform from which their middle order could launch. Rahane batted fluently and dominated the 54-run opening partnership before he was dismissed in the seventh over; he made 36 from 19 balls and struck five boundaries and a six. Short struggled against the KKR spinners, but gave a good account of himself when he had pace on the ball, middling the ball and collecting boundaries. However, he too failed to convert the start, falling victim to Nitish Rana in the thirteenth over. Thereafter RR lost wickets at regular intervals, failed to build any big partnerships, and could only add 48 runs (for the loss of four wickets) in the final five overs to finish at 160-8.
KKR lost the opener Chris Lynn to the third ball of the chase, but Sunil Narine (35 off 25 balls) and Uthappa put the innings back on track with a 69-run partnership. Nitish Rana and Dinesh Karthik then put together 61 runs to complete the job on hand.
Standout batting performances
Robin Uthappa batted beautifully yet again. The batsman from Karnataka made 48 from 36 balls in an innings that was studded with 6 fours & 2 sixes. He middled the ball more often than not, and dealt both pace and spin well; he used the familiarity of his current state teammate Jaydev Unadkat and former state teammate Shreyas Gopal, and took several runs off them. He was dismissed in the thirteenth over when he attempted to hit the off-spinner K Gowtham over long-on, but Ben Stokes intercepted the ball, leaped just in time, threw the ball back inside the field of play and returned into the field to take the catch.
The other innings of substance was that of Dinesh Karthik. The KKR captain walked out to bat when Uthappa was dismissed, and brought with him urgency to proceedings. He ran hard between the wickets – picking up sharp singles and collecting twos on several occasions, to help bring down the required run rate pretty quickly. He struck two boundaries and two sixes in his 42 not out, made from only 23 balls.
Notable Support Acts
Nitish Rana had an excellent day in the field. First, he returned figures of 2-11 from his two overs – his wickets being those of the two well-set Rajasthan Royals openers – Rahane and Short. In the chase, he collected a couple of boundaries and a six, but importantly showed good match awareness and played second-fiddle in the partnership with his captain. Rana remained unbeaten on 35, made from 27 balls.
On the bowling front, Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav were impressive. Despite bowling three overs in the Powerplay and one over in the death overs period, Chawla finished with tidy figures of 1-18 from his four overs – Ben Stokes the man dismissed. Kuldeep took the new ball at the other end, but came back to bowl later on in the innings; he dismissed Rahul Tripathi in the fourteenth over, and his returns for the day read 4-0-23-1
Rajasthan Royals 160-8 (D’Arcy Short 44, Ajinkya Rahane 36, Nitish Rana 2-11, Tom Curran 2-19) lost to
Kolkata Knight Riders 163-3 in 18.5 Overs (Robin Uthappa 48, Dinesh Karthik 42*, Nitish Rana 35*, K Gowtham 2-23) by 7 wickets.
Man of the Match:
Nitish Rana, for his all-round performance (35* & 2-11)