There was no Andre Russell show. Kolkata Knight Riders will not be complaining, though.
Dinesh Karthik’s men authored one of the most emphatic wins of this IPL, though their biggest star Russell didn’t have to bat or bowl. Against a listless Rajasthan Royals at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Sunday night, they romped home with eight wickets and over six overs to spare.
The visitors deservedly moved to the top of the table after posting their fourth win in five matches. The Royals are placed second from the bottom after slumping to their fourth defeat.
Royals got nothing right on the night, from the toss onwards. Put in, their batsmen found scoring tough against a steady attack.
But they should have shown a lot more urgency and a risk or two would have been worth taking. They ended up with what was the lowest IPL total batting first after losing three wickets or less.
They lost their captain off first ball of the second over. Rahane was trapped plumb in front by Prasidh Krishna. The Karnataka seamer brought his first ball sharply in, beating the batsman’s attempt to tuck him through the leg-side.
That brought Steve Smith to the wicket. The Australian was there even after the last ball of the innings, unbeaten on 73. But it took him 59 balls and wasn’t the most fluent of his innings.
His only six came in the 18th over, as he stepped out and lifted Sunil Narine over mid-wicket. That would prove to be the second and last maximum of the innings.
The other one was hit by Jos Buttler, who pulled fellow-Englishman Harry Gurney over deep square-leg on what was the latter’s IPL debut. The left-arm seamer didn’t have to wait at all for his revenge.
Buttler tried to hit his next ball over mid-wicket only to find the ball landing safely into the hands of Shubman Gill a couple of yards inside the rope. The opener had added 72 for the second wicket with Smith, but it had taken 64 balls.
Rahul Tripathi could not get going either. He too was accounted for by Gurney, with the batsman trying to clear the off-side and skying a catch to Chawla at mid-off.
Coming out firing
The key to chasing a low total, often, is not to emulate your rival’s awful run-rate. So, the Kolkata openers Chris Lynn and Suni Narine came out and wasted no time to send the ball into the stands, which were a sea of pink.
The score read 32 for no loss at the end of two overs. Though the in-form leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal sent back both the openers, after Narine was dropped off Dhawal Kulkarni in the third over, their partnership of 91 off 51 balls had sealed the match.