The Eliminator match of the IPL 2018 featured Kolkata Knight Riders going head to head against Rajasthan Royals at the Eden Gardens. KKR, playing at their home ground, had the backing of a capacity crowd and pulled off a rather comprehensive win to move to the 2nd Qualifier where they will face Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Disastrous start for KKR
KKR were put in to bat first after Dinesh Karthik lost the toss. They were off to a terrible start as the opener Sunil Narine was removed in the first over by Krishnappa Gowtham for just 4. Robin Uthappa too struggled to get going and became the 2nd victim of Gowtham for 3 in the 3rd over.
Jofra Archer added to KKR’s worries by sending back Nitish Rana for 3, an over later. The RR bowlers kept the pressure up and conceded just 46 runs which turned out to be the lowest score for KKR in the powerplay this season. Chris Lynn, who was witnessing the wickets falling at the other end, also succumbed to the pressure and fell for 18 in the 8th over courtesy Shreyas Gopal.
The skipper Karthik held one end for quite some time and found the company of Shubman Gill as the duo rebuilt the innings after a poor beginning. The scoring rate wasn’t too high but they ensured no wickets fell for a while. After 13 overs, the score reached 82/4 and the launching pad was on from that point onwards.
The 14th over bowled by Shreyas Gopal went for 20 runs that included 2 sixes and a four. Gill, after scoring 28 off 17 balls, fell to Archer in the 15th over that brought Andre Russell to the crease. He seemed like a man on a mission of taking the side to a decent total. Off just the 3rd ball he faced, he smashed one out of the park to announce his arrival.
Then, he took a liking for Jaydev Unadkat and collected a six and a four. Karthik’s hard yards paid off as he brought up his fifty in the 17th over but got out soon for 52 to Ben Laughlin. But Russell was in no mood to give up and hammered some lusty blows to stay unbeaten at 49 off 25 balls that propelled KKR to a competitive 169/7 after 20 overs.
RR’s solid beginning
In the pursuit of the target, RR began well and the openers Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Tripathi looked at ease. While Rahane went after the bowlers, Tripathi took the back seat initially and allowed his partner to flourish. But Tripathi came to the fore against Narine and smashed him for 2 consecutive sixes in the 5th over.
Just when he seemed dangerous, Piyush Chawla accounted for his wicket for 20 in the 6th over. Despite his wicket, RR had managed 51 runs in the fielding restrictions. Sanju Samson walked in to bat and spent very little time in hitting his stripes. Rahane became subdued in his approach but Samson kept the required run-rate under control as they reached 103/1 after 13 overs.
The Turning Point
RR were cruising towards the target with a handful of wickets in the bag. Rahane was starting to find it hard to up the ante and he was dismissed for 46 off 41 balls by Kuldeep Yadav in the 15th over. Heinrich Klaasen was the new man who found it hard to get going. There was a halt in the scoring rate that mounted the pressure on RR.
Chawla came back to finish his quota of overs in the 17th over and delivered the decisive blow when he got Samson out for 50 off 38 balls. When 43 runs were required from the last 3 overs, RR committed a howler by sending Stuart Binny to bat ahead of Gowtham who had won them matches from such situations in this very season.
Binny failed to score a single run and used up 3 deliveries at a crucial stage. Prasidh Krishna conceded just 3 runs in the 18th over and then Russell gave away just 6 runs in the penultimate over. Gowtham’s arrival turned out to be late as ultimately, RR fell short by 8 runs which meant KKR won the match by 25 runs.
Rajasthan Royals won the toss and opted to bowl first
Kolkata Knight Riders: 169/7 in 20 overs
Dinesh Karthik 52 (38), Andre Russell 49 (25)
Krishnappa Gowtham 15/2 (3), Jofra Archer 33/2 (4)
Rajasthan Royals: 144/4 in 20 overs
Sanju Samson 50 (38), Ajinkya Rahane 46 (41)
Piyush Chawla 24/2 (4), Kuldeep Yadav 18/1 (4)
Kolkata Knight Riders won by 25 runs
Player of the Match: Andre Russell