KKR did not see this coming. After winning 4 of the first 5 matches, they were favorites to make it to the playoffs. But then they started losing their way. With the sixth loss in a row now, they find themselves in a do-or-die situation now. They had their moments against Rajasthan Royals but the Royals got over the line with 3 wickets to spare.
Losing the toss and batting first on Eden Gardens, the Knight Riders did not start well against Aaron and co. KKR lost in the very first over and then Shubman Gill in the fifth over. KKR scored just 32 runs in the powerplay losing two wickets and midway through the innings they were 49 for 3. Then, Dinesh Karthik took the matter in his own hands and scored 19 runs in the 11th over. And then on although wickets fell around him Karthik kept accelerating as KKR scored 75 of the last 5 overs. Eventually, KKR managed to score 175 which was not par at this ground but a fighting one.
Defending 175, the Knight Riders did not have much luck early on as RR went 10 an over for first 5 overs. Once, Rahane fell to Narine in the sixth over, the Knight Riders started to come back into the game. Narine and Chawla had RR slumped to 78 for 4 by the beginning of 11th over. With 53 needed off 28, KKR had a glimmer of hope, but they could not defend 175 against Riyan Parag and Jofra Archer as the Royals completed the chase with 4 balls to spare.
Captain Dinesh Karthik missed out on a century as he remained not out on 97 with a strike rate of almost 200. So much was the impact of Karthik that the next highest score was 21 off 26 deliveries by Nitish Rana. Piyush Chawla was the peak of the bowlers picking 3 for 20 in 4 overs. Narine took 2 wickets as well. Prithvi Raj, Krishna, and Russell went for more than 10 an over which cost KKR the match.
Rajasthan Royals are hanging in there. They had a disastrous start to the tournament but they are still clinging to that elusive playoffs spot. Thanks to their bowling and some sensible batting by Parag and Archer at the death that they were able to beat KKR at their home.
Winning the toss batting first, the Royals' come-back man Varun Aaron made an immediate impact. He removed Chris Lynn and Shubman Gill in a similar fashion to help RR gain the advantage in the powerplay. They had restricted KKR to under 50 by the 10th over. However, they failed to restrict rampaging Karthik to push KKR's score to 175 almost single-handedly. Rajasthan Royals leaked 126 runs in the last 10 overs.
Chasing 175, the Royals started their innings above the asking rate with Rahane and Samson. They crossed 50 in the fifth over compared to KKR who took 11th over for the same. But then the Royals faced a mini-collapse as they went from 53 for none to 78 for 4 giving two wickets each to Narine and Chawla. When things started to look grim in the end Riyan Parag unleashed a few shots to take RR closer to the victory and Archer completed the chase with two back to back boundaries.
Varun Aaron was the peak of the bowlers picking 2 for 20 in 4 overs. He was the only one to below run-a-ball. Thomas, Gopal, and Unadkat took one wicket each. Riyan Parag top scored with 47 off 31 and Rahane scored 34 off 21 at the top. Jofra Archer’s 27 off just 12 helped RR cross the line with 4 balls remaining.
Kolkata Knight Riders have to win all the remaining games now. They will play their next match against Mumbai Indians at Eden Gardens on 28th April 2019. KKR has been heavily dependent on the middle order, especially Karthik and Russell to bail them out every single time. They have to play and win like a team if they are to qualify for the playoffs.
Like KKR, the Royals have to win every single game to make it to the playoffs. RR will play their next game against Sunrisers Hyderabad on 27th April 2019. Johra Archer has played his last game of the season and will head back home. Rajasthan Royals have come back strongly under Smith’s captaincy. They need to push harder for three more wins in the last three encounters.
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