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KKR vs RR: Finch, Shreyas Iyer's half-centuries in vain as Royals eke out a seven-run win

Half-centuries from Aaron Finch and Shreyas Iyer for the Kolkata Knight Riders went in vain as Rajasthan Royals, riding on the back of a Jos Buttler century and Yuzvendra Chahal’s hattrick and a five-wicket haul, held their nerve to seal a thrilling seven-run victory in the last over. 

Put into bat first, the Royals’ openers Jos Buttler and Devdutt Padikkal made use of a flat pitch assisting the batters to go along with the short square boundaries and raced away to 60 for no loss at the end of the powerplay. Buttler had scored 46 of them. The duo shared a 97-run opening stand before Sunil Narine, playing his 150th game for KKR, bowled Padikkal for 24 in the tenth over to make the first breakthrough.

Sanju Samson supported Buttler with a 19-ball 38 and ensured the Royals marched on towards a strong total. Buttler brought up his second century of the season by belting a Pat Cummins full-toss over long-on for six before top-edging a pull to Varun Chakaravarthy to fine leg in the seventeenth over. Buttler’s 61-ball 103 saw him hit nine fours and five sixes. 

Narine (2-21) struck three balls later in the eighteenth over to dismiss Riyan Parag for five. His five-run over was followed by an excellent Shivam Mavi over, who mixed up his pace with slower balls to concede just five runs to go along the wicket of Karun Nair. Eventually, Shimron Hetmyer played a handy cameo in a knock of 13-ball 26 which saw him hit two sixes off the last over bowled by Andre Russell to ensure the Royals posted the highest score of IPL 2022 - 217 for 5. 

In reply, the Knight Riders overcame a nervous start, after Sunil Narine was run-out without facing a delivery, to win the opening skirmishes. Finch and skipper Shreyas Iyer took the attack to the Rajasthan bowlers in a stand of 107 for the second wicket - the first of the season for KKR. Finch played the spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Chahal with consummate ease in a 28-ball 58 comprising nine fours and a brace of sixes. 

Nitish Rana slog swept Chahal in the thirteenth over trying to hit the leg-spinner for another six but holed out to Buttler at long-off. Four balls later, Ashwin sent back Andre Russell for a first-ball duck with a carrom ball to breach his defenses. However, Iyer carried on and anchored the chase but fell for a 51-ball 85 in the middle of a Chahal maelstrom. 

In the sixteenth over, which proved to be the turning point of the game, with 40 needed off the four overs, Chahal had Venkatesh Iyer stumped off a googly and three balls later picked up Shreyas Iyer plumb in front before Shivam Mavi holed out to long-on followed by Pat Cummins feathering a catch behind to Samson to hand the leg-spinner a hattrick and his maiden five-wicket haul. 

The momentum swung back in KKR’s favour when Umesh Yadav, in the very next over, struck two sixes and a boundary off Trent Boult to bring the equation down to 18 off the last two overs. Needing 11 off the last over, Obed McCoy landed the final blows dismissing Sheldon Jackson and bowling Yadav to bring down the curtains on a night that was fitting to the IPL’s 15th anniversary.