IPL: Rajasthan top KKR despite Karthik’s masterful 97*
Summary: Rajasthan Royals 177 for 7 (Riyan 47, Rahane 34, Archer 27*, Chawla 3-20) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 175 for 6 (Karthik 97*, Aaron 2-20) by three wickets
After Riyan Parag’s stunning 47 took Rajasthan Royals within striking distance of their fourth win, Jofra Archer signed off his blockbuster IPL campaign with successive boundaries to complete a three-wicket victory over the Kolkata Knight Riders.
It was the sixth consecutive loss for the home side, who failed to defend a total of 175 that was primarily achieved thanks to Dinesh Karthik’s valiant 97 not out.
Riyan and Archer added a crucial 44 for the seventh wicket, with Riyan hitting five fours and two sixes in his 31-ball 47. Archer was left to score nine off the last over. First he edged Prasidh Krishna for a four through third man, and then he smacked him over wide long-off for the winning runs.
It was heartbreak for Karthik who had batted so well for his unbeaten 97 off 50 balls, which contained nine sixes and seven fours, an innings that led Knight Riders’ recovery from early trouble, mainly caused by Varun Aaron.
Aaron from nowhere
Aaron, who had conceded 16 runs in his only over in this season’s IPL, had little to lose when he was brought back into the side and handed the new ball by Royals captain Steven Smith.
He struck straightaway, bowling Chris Lynn with an inducker in the first over and dismissing Shubman Gill with a similar delivery in the fifth over. His first spell of 3-1-10-2 prevented the Knight Riders from making a quick start.
Royals “drop” their guard
Knight Riders lost Nitish Rana too and struggled to 49 for 3 at the halfway mark. The first cracks in Royals’ effort appeared when Stuart Binny misfielded at the deep midwicket boundary in the 11th over, which went for 25. Karthik had struck Shreyas Gopal for two sixes and three fours in the over.
Binny then dropped Andre Russell in the 15th over before substitute Prashant Chopra shelled another Russell skier, in the 17th over. Russell’s third offering was taken well by Ajinkya Rahane at deep midwicket later in the over, and Royals were lucky the in-form West Indian only managed 14 off 14.
Karthik’s solo act
Karthik, who was stuck in Knight Riders’ slowness in the first 10 overs, took full toll of Royals in the second half of the innings, hitting 55 of the Knight Riders’ 75 in the last five overs. He slammed Jaydev Unadkat for three sixes, including two in the last over, sent a free-hit from Oshane Thomas sailing over long-on in the 17th, and carted the last two balls of Archer’s IPL campaign, in the 19th over, for sixes as well.
It was an almost single-handed effort from Karthik to take Knight Riders to 175; their second-highest score was Nitish Rana’s 21 off 26 at No. 3
Royals slip to spin
Sanju Samson began Royals’ chase with sixes off Prasidh Krishna and Russell in the first two overs, before Ajinkya Rahane smashed Prithvi Raj over point for his first six. But Sunil Narine had him lbw in the last over of the Powerplay, after the openers had added 53 for the first wicket.
The wicket brought another when Piyush Chawla removed Samson with a wrong’un. Narine came back from the other end to bowl Royals captain Steven Smith for 2 and could have had another in the same over had he held onto a return catch from Riyan.
The stranglehold of spin continued, however, as Chawla took the wickets of Stokes and Binny, and Royals sank to 98 for 5 in the 13th over.
Riyan announces himself
Riyan let the batsman at the other end do more of the hitting in his first three partnerships, and moved quietly to 22 off 21. But after Archer slammed Narine for a six in the 17th over, Parag sprung into action.
He slammed Prasidh Krishna for a hooked six, before hammering Russell over the straight boundary, only just beating the outstretched Brathwaite at long-on.
But he fell next ball when he hooked Russell but flicked the bails in his follow-through. That left nine to win, and Archer, duly completed the job with two decisive blows in the last over. (ESPNCricinfo)