Kolkata Knight Riders cruised to an easy six-wicket win against Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday (May 15) to consolidate their position in the eight-team points table of the Indian Premier League.
The capacity crowd at Eden Gardens was treated to a fantastic bowling performance, led by Kuldeep Yadav's clinical spell of 4 for 20, which restricted Rajasthan Royals to 142 all out. KKR got over the line with ease, with the batsmen playing responsible knocks to bag the crucial two points they needed in their bid to make it to the playoffs.
Sent in to bat, Rajasthan got off to a flyer, riding on some scintillating shots from Rahul Tripathi and Jos Buttler. The duo completely negated the good work from Shivam Mavi in the first over, where the youngster gave away only two runs.
The following over, bowled by Prasidh Krishna, saw Tripathi break the shackles, tonking three fours and a six to shift the momentum RR's way.
Buttler then took on Mavi in the third over, smashing 4, 6, 4, 4, 6, 4 to send the small group of RR fans in the stands into a state of frenzy.
Dinesh Karthik quickly realised that he had to slow things down, and he got Sunil Narine into the attack. The change worked well, as the offspinner managed to put a brake on the scoring to an extent.
Wickets, however, was going to be the key to KKR's comeback, and like he has done many times this season, it was Andre Russell who provided the breakthrough in the fifth over, surprising Tripathi with a bouncer that took his glove on the way to Karthik behind the stumps.
Another couple of good overs from Narine and Russell put the pressure on RR and set the platform for Kuldeep to come in and take advantage of the situation.
The chinaman struck straightaway, castling Ajinkya Rahane, who missed the ball trying to reverse-sweep the ball away to the fence. The run rate had come back down under 10 by then, and Karthik realised that was a good time to bring Prasidh back to the attack.
The tall pacer bowled an economic over before Kuldeep returned to bag another wicket. This time, it was the dangerous Buttler, who scored 39 off 22 balls (5x4, 2x6) before looping a catch to Javon Searles via an attempted reverse sweep.
That opened up the floodgates, and wickets started tumbling at regular intervals for the visiting side. Narine got rid of Sanju Samson, trapping him lbw for 12 off 10 balls.
It was Kuldeep, however, who really tightened the noose on RR, removing Stuart Binny with a googly and catching Ben Stokes off his own bowling to finish with four wickets.
Jaydev Unadkat's 26 off 18 balls helped Rajasthan get to a respectable total, but in the end, it didn't prove enough to restrict KKR's strong batting unit.
KKR's chase got off to a good start, with Sunil Narine taking on K Gowtham in the first over, tonking him for 21 runs (two fours and two sixes).
Stokes accounted for Narine's wicket in the second over, and Robin Uthappa's stay in the middle didn't last for too long either.
Nitish Rana chipped in with 21 off 17 balls, but Ish Sodhi trapped him in front to end his resistance.
Lynn and Karthik, however, kept chipping away at the target with a stable partnership, taking KKR to 117 for 3 in the 16th over.
When Lynn departed for 45 off 42 balls, KKR needed 26 runs at run a ball, and it was only a matter of time before the skipper and Russell took the side over the line.
KKR will now travel to Hyderabad to take on Sunrisers Hyderabad in the final league match of the season at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal.