No fortress cannot be breached, no contest cannot be won. These might have indicated the mantra for arguably IPL’s finest all-round star of 2018 season as Nitish Rana’s special 2-for in eroding Rajasthan Royals’ top order, followed by a gutsy 35-off-27 took his Kolkata Knight Riders home that too at Rajasthan’s home in front of stunned and jaded fans.
KKR among the strongest in IPL
In earning their third win of the season, having only succumbed to losses against two dynamite sides- CSK and SRH- it could be said that now, other teams may have to find some serious chinks in KKR’s armour who completed an easy drubbing of a visibly jaded RR in Jaipur as Karthik’s side dominated proceedings by a 7-wicket win.
For starters, it never looked that Rajasthan would’ve lost the game so easily, having both RR openers- captain Rahane and hitherto lackluster Short- finding the gaps on either side and rotating the strike well, being set till first 6 overs. From thereon, emerged the spin magic of KKR’s most valuable allrounder alongside Andre Russell- Nitish Rana- who dismissed both well-set openers to give his side a chance to challenge their opponents’ middle order.
How KKR snugged in and RR lost out
The most that RR managed today came from the unfamiliar blade of D’Arcy Short, who departed for 44, even though consuming nearly 7 overs in his vital stay. The rest of the contributions were mediocre and lacked the usual RR stamp of authority. You could say that the game turned on its head with the quick dismissals of Ben Stokes and Rahul Tripathy, the latter having hardly contributed in this IPL, came during the closing stages. Their blades were blunted by the pugnacious and challenging spin of both Kuldeep Yadava and Piyush Chawla, both spinners clinching a wicket apiece.
Easily done by KKR
On any given day, a 160 on the board is never going to get you that far, unless and until your opponents begin to bat really poorly. But that wasn’t to happen as Sunil Narine, even though having had two ordinary outings in the games before, signaled his arrival by dancing down the track to Gowtham and then attacking Dhawal Kulkarni, the latter still to find his bearings in this season.
Narine’s 35 off 25 set an early tone for the mayhem that KKR’s belligerent batsmen- Uthappa and Nitish Rana- would bring about. In collecting 2 mighty sixes and facing just 36 balls, Uthappa, arguably one of IPL’s finest number 3 continued the flow of runs by scoring 48.
His dismissal, brought by Krishnappa Gowtham, who had already removed a completely out of sorts Lynn for naught brought out the lower middle order that saw some clean hitting at well over run-a-ball rate by captain Dinesh Karthik and dangerman Rana who took the side home.
That too with 7 wickets and 7 balls to spare. Rajasthan’s bowling left a lot to be desired. Kulkarni and Undakat going wicketless for 10 and 11 an over, respectively was anything that Ajinkya Rahane would’ve wanted especially having put a mediocre score on the cards.
Given that KKR now occupies the top spot in the table with Sunrisers expected to crawl back to a position where they were first to reach this season, the onus is clearly on RR to pick themselves up from their state of obscurity. If they are to win forthcoming games, they would have to take a leaf out of their own triumph against Delhi, else they are staring at a downward spiral like the Daredevils