Kolkata beat Rajasthan to end five-match losing streak

Change is the only constant in Kolkata Knight Riders’ gameplan. And for a change, they got it right this time as they beat Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets to stage a comeback after five consecutive defeats in this IPL. The purple brigade made two changes to the playing XI, trying out their fifth opening pair of the season.

Although KKR lost both openers Baba Indrajit and Aaron Finch inside the Powerplay, the good work done by their bowlers to restrict RR to a below-par 152/5, after Shreyas Iyer won the toss and put the opposition in, helped them to get 158/3 in 19.1 overs at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Monday.


RR’s heroes in their last match against KKR – Jos Buttler, who got 103 off 60 balls and Yuzvendra Chahal, who claimed a fifer – came a cropper, which made a big difference to their fortunes. Man-in-form Buttler had a rare off day, managing just 22, and Chahal returned with none for 31 off his four overs. Ashwin also failed to impress, giving away 33 runs without any success.

The unbroken 66-run fourth-wicket stand between left-handers Rinku Singh (42) and Nitish Rana (48) sealed the deal for KKR and kept them alive to fight another day. KKR benched both their retained domestic players Venkatesh Iyer and Varun Chakravarthy, but seemed to have got an able partner to Sunil Narine, their most effective bowler this season, with Anukul Roy rising to the occasion on his debut match for the franchise.

Spinners have always acted as the backbone of the KKR attack, and this time the out-of-form Chakravarthy had affected their plans. Their two spinners on Monday gave away just 47 runs in their eight overs, with Roy claiming the wicket of Karun Nair, who came in place of Daryll Mitchell. Umesh Yadav once again provided the early breakthrough by having opener Devdutt Padikkal caught and bowled in his second over.

Roy combined well with Narine in the Powerplay itself as the duo, sharing three overs among themselves in the first six overs, managed to keep RR’s most explosive duo Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson quiet. Samson hit Roy inside out over extra cover for the first six of the match in the last ball of the powerplay as RR ended up getting 38 runs losing one wicket with the field restrictions in place. It was a rare off day for Buttler, this IPL’s batting sensation, as he never got going.

Tim Southee put KKR on top by having the man-in-form in his first over with Shivam Mavi at long-on timing his jump to perfection to take a well-judged catch. Strangely, Riyan Parag came ahead of Shimron Hetmyer after Karun Nair failed to impress, getting run-a-ball 13. RR failed to accelerate in the end losing Parag and Samson off consecutive deliveries. In spite of Hetmyer hitting two consecutive sixes off Southee’s 19th over that cost 20 runs, Shreyas should be happy with the way it ended.