Rajasthan Royals consigned Kolkata Knight Riders to their sixth defeat in a row in the VIVO IPL after clinching a narrow 3-wicket win at the Eden Gardens on Thursday night. After being put into bat, KKR posted a competitive 175-6 in their 20 overs thanks to captain Dinesh Karthik’s unbeaten 50-ball 97, but RR chased down the target with four balls to spare, with 9 to get from the final over of the innings.
The RR run chase began in bright fashion, with Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson taking 50 from the first five overs before KKR’s introduction of spin derailed their run chase. Sunil Narine’s wicket of Rahane in the sixth over, trapped in front for 34, sparked a collapse as RR lost three wickets for the next 10 runs as their run rate fell from over 10 runs to below 8.
Ben Stokes, playing in his last VIVO IPL fixture of the year before leaving to join up with the England national team, was caught in the deep for 11 to bring to an end a poor season for RR. The visitors’ 17-year-old all-rounder Riyan Parag, however, continued to impress with a stellar innings of 47 from 31 balls which kept RR in the game, before he was out hit-wicket in the penultimate over of the innings off Andre Russell.
Jofra Archer, however, ended his stint at the VIVO IPL 2019 with a match-winning 27 not out from just 12 balls as he hit a boundary and a six off the first two balls of Prasidh Krishna’s final over to close out the game.
Earlier, KKR’s innings got off to a poor start as Varun Aaron, playing only his second game of the 2019 VIVO IPL, bowled Chris Lynn with the third ball of the innings. Aaron struck once again to remove Shubman Gill with a swinging slower delivery, and KKR’s problems were compounded when they lost Nitish Rana for 21 soon after. Dinesh Karthik, however, rescued his team from a collapse with a measured innings in which he first consolidated, and then tore into the bowlers towards the end.
Standout batting performance
Riyan Parag is all of 17, but has already played two match-winning hands for Rajasthan Royals. In just his fourth game in the VIVO IPL, Parag walked in to bat with his team struggling at 63-3 in the 8th over of the innings. Despite continuing to lose partners from the other end, Parag battled on, struck boundaries to ease the pressure and launched a calculated attack on the bowlers he could target. His 47 contained five fours and two sixes, and by the time he was out, hit wicket to Russell while attempting a hook shot, he had brought the equation down to 9 needed from 7 balls.
Dinesh Karthik has been under severe pressure thanks to an underwhelming season with the bat, and the mounting losses his team has had to deal with, the worst streak for KKR since 2009. Karthik came into bat and saw KKR slip to 80-4, but settled down to first rotate the strike, and then launched a fierce attack. He brought up his half-century off 35 balls, only his second of the season, and his next 47 runs came off just 15 balls as he took 34 runs from the last two overs of the innings.
Notable Support Act – Batting
Jofra Archer is well known for sending down yorkers and bouncers at high pace, but after going wicketless in his four overs, Archer played a match-winning hand with the bat before leading RR to join up with the England national side. Archer came in to bat when RR were struggling in their run chase, needing 53 off 28 deliveries, but he and Riyan Parag added 44 out of those runs in just 21 balls, before hitting a four and a six in the last over to seal a memorable win for his team.
Standout bowling performance
Playing in just his second game of VIVO IPL 2019, after bowling just one over in his only previous appearance, Varun Aaron returned to the RR team and made immediate impact, claiming the wickets of openers Chris Lynn and Shubman Gill in a stunning opening burst. Fast and accurate, Aaron bowled Lynn with the third ball of the innings before producing one of the balls of the competition, a slower ball to Gill than swung in and bowled the batsman through the gate to cap off a memorable comeback with figures of 2-20.
Notable Support Act – Bowling
On any other day, Piyush Chawla’s 3-20 would have ended up as match-winning, but on this occasion his terrific spell ended up on the losing side. Chawla bowled a well-set Sanju Samson in his first over, before removing Ben Stokes and Stuart Binny to spark RR’s mid-innings collapse, but having bowled himself out, could only watch the visitors come right back into the game to win it at the end.
Kolkata Knight Riders: 175-6 (Dinesh Karthik 97*, Varun Aaron 2-20) lost to Rajasthan Royals: 177-7 (Riyan Parag 47, Ajinkya Rahane 34, Piyush Chawla 3-20, Sunil Narine 2-25) by 3 wickets.
Stat of the Match: Steve Smith brought up 2000 runs in VIVO IPL.
Rajasthan Royals’ Oshane Thomas made his VIVO IPL debut.
Man of the Match: Varun Aaron, for his figures of 2-20.