Coming into the game after breaking the season’s pattern of the team batting second winning, (barring the rain-interrupted chase of DD) by winning comfortably against RCB and DD, both KKR and RR had found their momentum going on. They had found two matchwinners in Sanju Samson and Andre Russel – albeit two contrasting styles of play. While Sanju timed the pants off the deliveries from RCB bowlers, Russell relied on his muscle power to tonk towering sixes against DD.
KKR won the toss and put RR into bat, and with both teams fielding an unchanged side, RR went about their task of defending the RR fortress where they have a winning streak of 9 matches. Rahane and D’Arcy Short started the proceedings, but the real pick of the match was Dinesh Karthik’s captaincy in the way in which he attacked with the spinners.
We have seen across seasons of the IPL and in International matches very often where spinners operate from both ends in the powerplay, but Dk took it a step further by bowling 5 overs of spin in the powerplay. Piyush Chawla who stays under the radar throughout the year and in these 2 months shows us how effective a T20 bowler he is and Kuldeep Yadav managed to choke the RR openers with some very tight wicket to wicket bowling. RR managed to get just nine runs after 3 overs. Once Sunil Narine was introduced in the fourth over, Rahane managed to cream their sumptuous drives to the boundary to ease some pressure, but Chawla and the young lad Shivam Mavi bowled tight overs restricting RR to 48 at the end of the powerplay.
DK’s gamble of bringing on Nitish Rana proved effective as Rahane, tried to break the shackles in the 7th overstepped out to a flighted delivery, missed it completely and a moment of brain freeze meant he couldn’t make it back to the crease. At the other end, D’Arcy Short like every Australian big hitter found out how difficult it is to play Indian spinners on Indian pitches. Samson got out trying to play a well-timed flick of his hips but found the fielder at deep square. RR struggled to get any valuable partnership going with the batsmen perishing trying to play the big shots. The pressure was built by some very tight bowling (except Narine who seemed like a shadow of his usual self, giving away 48 runs of his four) and some brilliant captaincy by DK who set the right field to the right batsmen. Stokes and Buttler failed to get going and a couple of late blows from Gowtham meant that RR finished with 160 on the board.
Rajasthan would have fancied their chances when K Gowtham who opened the bowling managed to sneak one through Chriss Lynn’s defense and cleaned him up for a duck. Yet another failure for Lynn who was one of KKR’s costliest buys this season. But Uthappa who joined Narine in the crease ensured that the momentum didn’t drop as they kept the scoring rate under control with some brutal hitting. Narine tore apart Dhawal Kulkarni’s bowling hitting him for three consecutive boundaries in the 4th over. Uthappa reciprocated with three more in the 5th bowled by Jaydev Unadkat, RR’s costliest buy, who has not had the best of starts to this season going at 11 runs an over every match and picking up just 2 wickets in the series so far.
Sizeable contributions from Narine and Uthappa and some big hits from their new batting mainstay Nitish Rana and captain DK meant that KKR reached the target in the 19th over with 7 wickets to spare. Nitish Rana went on to win the MoM for a brisk knock of 37 and chipping in with 2 for 11.
RR never really looked like they were in the game in the 2nd innings and the worries for Rahane mount as he doesn’t have the firepower in his opening bowlers to take out someone like Narine.
Rahane would hope he can get the team back in good spirits when they travel to Pune to take on Chennai Super Kings on the 20th while KKR will hope to keep the momentum going when they face Kings XI Punjab at Eden Gardens on the 21st.