Kuldeep’s stellar show lifts KKR

Kuldeep’s stellar show lifts KKR

Kuldeep’s stellar show lifts KKRRoyals fizzle out after an explosive start by Buttler and Tripathi to be shot out for 142

Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav struck form at the right time to achieve his season-best figures of four for 20 as Kolkata Knight Riders outplayed Rajasthan Royals by six wickets to move closer to securing a berth in the playoffs of the Indian Premier League at the Eden Gardens on Tuesday.

Inserted, Royals found Kuldeep too hot to handle and wasted an explosive start to manage only 142 in 19 overs. Knight Riders batted sensibly to reach the target in 18 overs.

For Royals, Jos Buttler and his opening partner Rahul Tripathi displayed ruthless aggression. Young KKR pacer Shivam Mavi returned to start promisingly before the Indo-English pair went berserk to plunder 57 runs in the next three overs.

Tripathi (27 off 15) and Buttler (39 off 22) improvised to spoil the KKR bowlers’ plans.

Tripathi made room to gather three fours and a six off Prasidh Krishna’s first over costing 19, while Buttler, showcasing a terrific combination of class and creativity, pummelled Mavi for 4, 6, 4, 4, 6, 4 to garner 28.

Rescue-man Sunil Narine’s opening over cost 10 runs, but the Trinidad spinner used subtle variations to play a key role in KKR’s tremendous fightback.

Narine, who removed Sanju Samson, got fine support from fellow-West Indian and pacer Andre Russell, who mixed up his deliveries to provide a breakthrough, by having Tripathi caught off a rising ball, in the fifth over.

Kuldeep was encouraged by the gift from Royals’ skipper Ajinkya Rahane, who was bowled while trying a reverse sweep a googly pitched on the leg stump, in his first over.

Bowling uninterruptedly, Kuldeep, who had a lean phase of late, notched up a wicket each in his remaining three overs to send back Buttler, who was also out to a reverse sweep, Ben Stokes and Stuart Binny and break Royals’ backbone.

Royals lost its next six wickets for 31 runs but scored 142, thanks to Jaydev Unadkat’s cameo of 18-ball 26.

With Narine clubbing K. Gowtham for 21 runs in the first over, Knight Riders were off to a rollicking start. However, Stokes’ well-directed pace not only fetched two quick wickets, that of Narine and Uthappa, but also applied brakes on the scoring.

Ish Sodhi claimed Nitish Rana.

Nevertheless, Chris Lynn, before becoming Stokes’ third victim, restricted his customary flamboyance for a 42-ball 45, and captain Dinesh Karthik scored a responsible 41 not out off 31.

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