KOLKATA Knight Riders (KKR) handed Rajasthan Royals (RR) their first loss in IPL 2020 as Steve Smith’s men fell short by 37 in a chase of 174.
Shubman Gill and Eoin Morgan helped Knight Riders build a strong total before Pat Cummins and Shivam Mavi landed blow after blow to leave Royals in a hole.
PACE LIKE FIRE
Even before KKR got going, Jofra Archer bowled absolute bullets at Gill and Sunil Narine in the first over. In the opening over, he bowled three deliveries over 150 kph and the lowest speed he hit was 147 kph. In his first three overs, he had figures of 3-0-4-2 but Morgan and Cummins hit a six and a four in Archer’s last over to spoil his figures a bit. Despite leaking 14 in his final over, he ended with 4-0-18-2 to keep KKR to a par score.
SO HOW DID KKR GET 174?
Gill continued to impress and even with Narine struggling from the other end, there were no unnecessary risks from the right-hander. Narine made 15 off 14 as the opening partnership fetched the team 36. KKR were well placed after ten overs with 82 on the board with two wickets down. Gill had moved to 47 off 34 but fell to Archer.
Andre Russell had more than ten overs to face and showed plenty of promise. He hit three mighty sixes to race to 24 off 13 but fell trying to go for more. KKR were in a tricky situation but Morgan steadied things a bit and took it deep. KKR were 127 for 5 after 16 overs and then hit 47 in the last four overs. Morgan went from 6 off 10 to end with 34 off 23 to give the bowlers a fighting chance.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR RR THEN?
Sharjah hangover? The RR top-order seemed in a hurry. Steven Smith looked ungainly and played ugly swipes on five of the seven deliveries he faced
Sanju Samson looked sublime during his nine-ball stay but threw his wicket away trying to pull Mavi. Buttler decided against taking the conservative approach and fell trying to chase a wide one from Mavi. At 39 for 3 in 6.1 overs, RR middle-order was under too much pressure.
Robin Uthappa and Riyan Parag crumbled under pressure while Rahul Tewatia tried but failed to repeat his Sharjah heroics. RR were 67 for 6 after 11 overs and already out of the contest by then.
WAS THERE A STANDOUT PERFORMER?
Two actuallym Cummins and Mavi. If Archer was on fire, Cummins was absolutely sublime. Smith tried to put the Australia pacer under pressure and tried to hit him off his length. Cummins, however, stuck to his Test match lengths, continued to ask questions and created three opportunities. On the third, Smith eventually inside-edged the delivery and was caught behind.
Mavi was put under pressure by Buttler but continued to impress with his skills. He was a touch lucky with the dismissal of Buttler was took out Samson to leave RR gasping.
SHOULD RR HAVE BATTED FIRST?
Probably. All six games in Dubai so far have been won by the side batting first. RR probably were guilty of taking the conservative approach and hoping for dew to settle in in the second innings. The RR top-order was dismantled way too quickly during the chase for the dew to give any scares to KKR on the night.
RR will play Royal Challengers Bangalore in Abu Dhabi on October 3 in the first afternoon encounter of the tournament. KKR will play the second game that day – against Delhi Capitals – in Sharjah.
(Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 174-6 in 20 overs (Shubman Gill 47, Eoin Morgan 34*; Jofra Archer 2-18) beat Rajasthan Royals 137/9 in 20 overs (Kamlesh Nagarkoti 2-13, Shivam Mavi 2-20) by 37 runs).