Bagging two crucial points - ticked.
Improving net run rate - ticked.
Showing killer instincts - ticked.
Kolkata Knight Riders ticked off all the ‘to-do’ boxes on Sunday and scripted a much-needed win over Rajasthan Royals in Dubai to stay alive in the play-off race of Dream 11 IPL 2020. Eoin Morgan led from the front with a blistering 35-ball 68* to guide KKR to a daunting 191, followed by a meticulous bowling performance by our bowlers to seal the 60-run victory.
KKR are now back to the 4th spot (14 points) with a better Net Run Rate (-0.214) in the points table but their play-off fortunes will still depend on the results of the next couple of matches involving Sunrisers Hyderabad, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals.
DC (-0.159) face RCB (-0.145) next and if any of the two teams loses Monday's game by a big margin, the equations may start favouring the Knights. SRH's match against Mumbai Indians on Tuesday will be crucial too. The Orange army has a strong NRR (+0.555) and a win is certainly going to see them qualify for the play-offs.
Sunday’s dominating performance has ushered in a positive mood in the KKR camp once again, courtesy the all-round efforts from everyone to make things work. Be it Morgan's fiery knock or Andre Russell (25 off 11) making a strong comeback, there was a sense of positivity in the very demeanour of our Knights. Shubman Gill’s 24-ball 36 at the top and Rahul Tripathi’s 34-ball 39 were also praiseworthy.
“I think it (the success) is a matter of coming into the game without thinking too much about the circumstances that we didn’t have control over, like the Net Run Rate. We were keeping things as simple as possible and focused on winning the game. Knowing what it takes to beat Rajasthan Royals on any given day, I think everybody collectively committed to that and the game plan as well,” said captain Morgan after the match.
The all-round efforts were visible in fielding too. We know catches win matches and Sunday treated the Knights family to some outstanding fielding and catches that eventually choked RR's run chase. Dinesh Karthik's flying catch to dismiss the most dangerous Ben Stokes (18 off 11) changed the course of the match to a great extent. Shivam Mavi’s return catch to send Kartik Tyagi back features in the list of ‘top moments in the field’ too.
The bowling unit fired in unison one more time. Pat Cummins had a first over nightmare giving away 19 runs but he bounced back beautifully with Robin Uthappa’s wicket in the last ball. There was no looking back after this. The World No. 1 pacer soon removed Stokes, captain Steve Smith ((4) and Riyan Parag (0) to return his IPL best figures of 4-34. Wickets kept tumbling and RR lost half their side for just 37 runs. Shivam Mavi was exceptional with the ball, picking up 2-15 at an economy rate of 3.75 RPO, and so was or Mr. consistent Varun Chakravarthy (2-20).
“The most impressive thing today was collective bowling. I think we were absolutely outstanding. Everybody, from Pat Cummins’ first over all the way through to Kamlesh Nagarkoti’s final over, executed everything that we spoke about before the game. So, knowing that we have given everything to our performance today, the mood in the camp is good regardless of qualification, because now we feel we have given everything that we have,” Morgan pointed.
KKR ended the group stage on the brightest possible note and if all goes well and they eventually make it to the playoffs, this will certainly be etched in our memory as one of the most sensational comebacks witnessed over the years by our beloved Knights.