Kolkata Knight Riders registered their first away victory of the 2018 VIVO IPL by beating Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets on Wednesday (April 18) night. Chasing RR's 160 for 8, the Knights got over the line in 18.5 overs at Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur.
In the process, KKR went up to the No. 1 position in the eight-team points table with six points from five games, and a net run rate of 0.825.
Sent in to bat, Rajasthan Royals got off to a quiet start, with Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav sticking to a tight line for the first three overs.
Ajinkya Rahane, however, exploded in the fourth over off Sunil Narine, hitting four boundaries to get Rajasthan back on track. The momentum helped the openers - Rahane and D'Arcy Short - rack up some runs before Dinesh Karthik brought Nitish Rana into the attack.
Rana, who had last bowled in KKR's opening game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, struck with a wicket straightaway, removing Rahane for 36 off 19 balls. It was triggered by some excellent work from Karthik, who leaped forward to collect the ball and hit the stumps after it had hit Rahane's pads and rolled on near his feet.
From then on, KKR's bowlers tightened the noose once again, and despite some runs from Short (44 off 43 balls, 4x5, 6x1), the remaining batsmen failed to convert the starts they got to substantial knocks.
Rahul Tripathi, Ben Stokes and K Gowtham hit a few shots to the fence, but with KKR's spinners weaving a web around them, RR were reduced to 141 for 7 by the penultimate over of their innings. Jos Buttler fought hard for his unbeaten 24 off 17 balls, hitting two boundaries along the way.
Rana ended with figures of 2 for 11 and Tom Curran got 2 for 11. Chawla, Kuldeep and Mavi picked up one wicket each.
In response, KKR lost Chris Lynn early, but Sunil Narine and Robin Uthappa made up for the slow start with a clinical 69-run partnership for the second wicket.
Narine hit three boundaries off the fourth over bowled by Dhawal Kulkarni and Uthappa followed that up with three more off Jaydev Unadkat's next over to break the shackles.
By the end of the fifth over, KKR were 40 for 1, and the duo continued to attack for another 3.4 overs before Narine was run out for 35. His 25-ball stay in the middle comprised five boundaries and a six.
Despite Narine's exit, Uthappa made sure the opposition didn't capitalise on the situation and build pressure on the chase. He took most of the strike till the 11th over to ensure KKR reached 91 for 2, requiring 70 runs off the last nine overs.
Nitish Rana then joined the party, hitting Ben Laughlin for a four off the first ball off the 12th over, and kept attacking at every opportunity.
Uthappa fell two runs short of a half-century, but the platform he provided KKR with was crucial from the visiting side's point of view.
Rana, along with Dinesh Karthik, kept the scoreboard ticking, chipping away at the target with ease. Rana ended with 35 not out (off 27 balls) and Karthik remained unbeaten on 42 off 23 deliveries.
KKR will play their next match at home, against Kings XI Punjab on Saturday.