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Rinku and Rana steer KKR home in tricky chase

Kolkata Knight Riders 158 for 3 (Rana 48*, Rinku 42*, Shreyas 34) beat Rajasthan Royals 152 for 5 (Samson 54, Hetmyer 27*, Southee 2-46) by seven wickets

Nitish Rana and Rinku Singh offset an early wobble and ensured Kolkata Knight Riders chased down 153 to snap their five-match losing streak, on a slow, grippy Wankhede Stadium track. After Trent Boult and Prasidh Krishna had made early inroads for Rajasthan Royals, Rana and Rinku dismantled R Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal respectively to bring the target within Knight Riders’ reach.
Rana cracked Ashwin for 23 off 14 balls on Monday, taking his overall head-to-head to 99 off 52 balls without being dismissed by the spinner in the IPL. He first forged a 60-run third-wicket partnership with Shreyas Iyer (34) and then a livelier 66-run stand with Rinku to usher Knight Riders home.
Sanju Samson‘s wretched luck with the toss continued – he has won only one out of ten tosses this IPL – but despite that Royals made a decent fist of their defence by dragging it deep. However, with 31 needed off 18 balls, Rinku whacked back-to-back fours off Chahal to effectively kill off the game. It was Rana who ultimately finished it with five balls to spare, with an uppercut six off Kuldeep Sen.

Royals’ go-slow
Umesh Yadav got the new ball to swing both ways to threaten both edges of Jos Buttler in his first over. Ankul Roy, who was picked in place of the out-of-form Venkatesh Iyer, kept Buttler – and Devdutt Padikkal – quiet with his stump-to-stump darts. Umesh struck in his second over when he had Padikkal spooning a return catch for 2.

After watching Royals gulp down 18 dots in the first four overs, Samson got a move on in the fifth over, hitting Umesh for back-to-back fours. Buttler uncharacteristically dawdled to 22 off 24 balls before Shivam Mavi combined with Tim Southee to dismiss him. Southee had bowled one in his slot – or perhaps just short of it and Buttler shovelled it away in the air with his powerful bottom wrist. For a moment, the ball seemed to sail away for six, but Mavi intervened by leaping athletically to his right at long-on to pluck the ball out of thin air. At that stage, Royals were 55 for 2 in the ninth over.

Samson, Hetmyer give Royals a leg-up
Samson was more fluent, often jumping outside leg to manufacture swinging room and scoring opportunities. He progressed to 40 off 30 balls, but managed only 14 off his last 19 balls. The pick of his eight boundaries was a regal cut off Mavi, but the seamer bounced back to remove Samson for the fifth time in seven IPL innings. During the toss, Iyer explained that Mavi had slotted back in place of Harshit Rana because of his favourable match-ups against the Royals batters. Mavi did his job, returning 1 for 33 in his four overs.

Riyan Parg only flickered briefly (19 off 12 balls), but Shimron Hetmyer fired in the slog overs, as he has often done in the recent past, clattering an unbeaten 27 off 13 balls. He was particularly brutal on Southee, taking him for 17 off just five balls.

KKR’s go-slow
Samson’s early impetus and Hetmyer’s late blows gave Royals’ attack something to work with. Trent Boult swung the new ball and bothered both Aaron Finch and B Indrajith – Knight Riders’ fifth different opening combination this IPL. It was Kuldeep Sen who made the first incision when he rushed Finch and had him chopping on for 4 off 7 balls.

Indrajith showed a glimpse of his improved white-ball potential when he ramped Prasidh Krishna over short fine leg for four. Prasidh, however, banged in a head-high bouncer next ball to have Indrajith top-edging a hook to fine leg, who had been pushed back onto the boundary after that four. Knight Riders stuttered to 32 for 2 in the powerplay.

The Rana-Rinku show
Ashwin was introduced into the attack in the next over, and Iyer carved his first ball away between backward point and short third man. Rana then laid into him in his third over, picking him off for 4,6,4 with a variety of sweeps, including the reverse-hit.

Boult had Iyer caught by Samson down the leg side for 34 off 32 balls, but Rana and Rinku completed the job for Knight Riders without much fuss. With Rana vulnerable to rapid pace and bounce, Rinku took on both Prasidh and Sen before lining up Chahal too. Often confined to being KKR’s regular substitute fielder in the IPL, Rinku showed off his batting chops by contributing 42 off just 23 balls to an unbroken 66-run stand with Rana.


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