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KKR vs RR: Bowlers, Rana-Rinku stand help Knight Riders get back to winning ways

A strong middle-order showing with the bat helped Kolkata Knight Riders snap their five-match winless streak with a seven-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals at the Wankhede stadium.

Nitish Rana (48*) and Man-of-the-match Rinku Singh (42*) put on a pivotal 66-run partnership for the fourth wicket to see off the chase of 153 with five balls to spare.

Earlier, the Knight Riders’ bowlers bowled with exceptional control to restrict Rajasthan Royals to a below-par total of 152 for 5 with Tim Southee picking two wickets and Umesh Yadav, Anukul Roy and Shivam Mavi picking one apiece.

Having won the toss and opting to bowl first on a slow pitch, the Knight Riders kept things tight conceding just 38 in the powerplay, with three overs of spin, pricing out Devdutt Padikkal early courtesy a superb return catch off Yadav’s bowling in the the second over. Jos Buttler, the leading run-scorer of the season who scored a century the last time these sides met, was dismissed in the ninth over for 22.

Royals’ skipper Sanju Samson held the innings together with his second half-century of the season in a knock of 54 hitting seven fours and a six and found support in the death overs with Riyan Parag striking a 12-ball 19 before Shimron Hetmyer struck two sixes and a four to help them post 152 for 5.

In reply, Knight Riders lost openers Aaron Finch (4) and Baba Indrajith (15) inside the powerplay but Shreyas Iyer (34) lead the recovery with a 60-run partnership with Nitish Rana for the third wicket. The duo took a particular liking to spin in the middle overs with Rana reverse sweeping off-spinnner Ravichandran Ashwin for two boundaries and a six in three deliveries in the eleventh over.

Iyer was eventually dismissed gloving a leg-side delivery through to the keeper in the thirteenth over with the side still 60 runs adrift but Rana and Singh kept up with the run-rate and sealed off the chase with five balls to spare.

Rana struck three fours and two sixes in an unbeaten 37-ball 48 with the aggressor Singh hit six fours and a six in his knock of 42 off just 23 deliveries.

“I need to compliment all the guys for the way they played tonight,” Head Coach Brendon McCullum said after the game. “The guys have stuck together and been realistic. Tonight was a fantastic performance, from two guys who are very good friends (Rana and Rinku).”