Kolkata Knight Riders is all but assured of a place in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 top four after a 86-run win over Rajasthan Royals in Sharjah on Thursday.
Needing 172 to win, Rajasthan was 1 for 2 in the second over. KKR opened the bowling with Shakib Al Hasan, who cleaned up Yashasvi Jaiswal in the first over before Shivam Mavi had Sanju Samson caught in the next. Lockie Ferguson, coming back from an injury, then removed Liam Livingstone and Anuj Rawat in his first over.
Rajasthan, 17/4 after the PowerPlay, sunk further when Mavi got rid of Shivam Dube and Glenn Phillips in the same over. Rahul Tewatia’s power-hitting provided some momentary respite but it was too little, too late in the end. Mavi finished with 4 for 21.
Earlier, Shubman Gill made a measured fifty. RR, which chose to chase, bowled pace right through the PowerPlay and denied the KKR openers a flying start through tight and accurate bowling.
On a slow surface, Samson used three quicks, who bowled 20 dots among them and conceded three fours and a six in the first six overs. KKR’s score of 34 for no loss was the second-slowest PowerPlay score batting first in Sharjah this season.
The surface continued to prove difficult to score on freely as the innings progressed. The RR pacers took pace off the ball; the occasional cutters gripped. There wasn’t a single over of spin in the first 10 overs. Venkatesh Iyer found his timing in the 10th over when he hit Jaydev Unadkat for two sixes.
KKR was 79 for no loss after 10.4 overs when, after having done all the hard work, Venkatesh was clean-bowled by Tewatia. He was replaced by Nitish Rana, who hit Phillips for a four and a six before becoming his first IPL wicket.
Rana might have lasted just five balls, but his knock looked to have given KKR’s innings a spurt. The in-form Rahul Tripathi walked in at No. 4 and began by flicking Phillips through midwicket for four. After being dropped by Samson on five, Tripathi collected back-to-back boundaries off Dube. At the other end, Gill brought up his second successive fifty of the UAE-leg with a boundary. Chris Morris got him for 56.
Tripathi and Dinesh Karthik’s lusty blows at the death helped KKR reach the highest score in Sharjah this season.