Kolkata Knight Riders 174 for 6 (Gill 47, Morgan 34*, Archer 2-18) beat Rajasthan Royals 137 for 9 (Curran 54*, Mavi 2-20, Nagarkoti 2-13, Chakravarthy 2-25, Cummins 1-13) by 37 runs
Jofra Archer ambushed Shubman Gill and Dinesh Karthik with blistering pace and bounce, but a collective effort from the Kolkata Knight Riders’ quicks trumped Archer’s 2 for 18 and handed the Rajasthan Royals their first defeat in IPL 2020. The result meant the Knight Riders jumped from seventh to second on the points table, opening up the tournament further.
After Steven Smith swiped at Pat Cummins and nicked him behind for three in the second innings, Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti scythed through the line-up to leave the top-heavy Royals at 42 for 5 in the eighth over and effectively kill off their pursuit of 175.
Earlier in the evening, when Archer was rushing both Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell, it appeared like 174 was beyond the Knight Riders’ reach. Morgan was also pinged on the helmet by Ankit Rajpoot, but he shook that off and provided the finishing kick with an unbeaten 34 off 23 balls. Dinesh Karthik then rifled through his bowling options and made that total look a whole lot bigger as the Royals meandered to 137 for 9 in their 20 overs. That the margin of defeat was only 37 was thanks to an unbeaten 36-ball 54 from the Royals’ No. 7 Tom Curran.
Archer’s spell from hell
Archer had first crack at Sunil Narine and immediately had him hopping with a 149kph rocket that flew past his outside edge. He then breached 150kph the next ball to beat another swish from Narine outside off. Narine, though, found his release against the lesser pace of Jaydev Unadkat and Rajpoot before the left-arm seamer knocked him over for 15 off 14 balls.
Gill, the other opener, was more assured and set to work with a lofted six over long-on off Rajpoot. His best shot, though, came in the ninth over off legspinner Shreyas Gopal. After the bowler darted a slider that wasn’t short enough for the pull, Gill, having already pressed on the front foot, adjusted to the length and swatted it away between deep square leg and deep midwicket for four.
Enter, again, Archer. He bowled what looked like a legcutter, clocked at 140kph, drew a leading edge, and snapped up the return catch, dismissing Gill for 47 off 34 balls. He then tested Russell, who was bumped up to No. 4 with a near-150kph lifter that burst past his helmet. In his next over, Archer nailed another legcutter, this one at 147kph, hit a Test-match line and the outside edge of Karthik. He proceeded to rattle Morgan, too, with the short stuff and could have had his England white-ball captain on 8 had Curran not dropped a catch at deep backward point.
Russell and Morgan tee off
Having somehow survived that Archer burst and a blow on the helmet from Rajpoot, Morgan punished Curran by muscling a slower offcutter over midwicket for six. Morgan then flitted around his crease, messing with the lines and head of Curran. The seamer bowled three wide yorkers past the tramline and ended up conceding 16 off the final over.
Russell also did his part, lining up Gopal and the short leg-side boundaries. After viciously slog-sweeping a wrong ‘un with the spin into the top tier beyond square leg, he whipped one over the midwicket boundary. Both balls disappeared and they had to be replaced. Russell’s fun, however, ended in the 15th over when Rajpoot shifted his lines much wider and had him carving a catch to deep backward point 24 off 14 balls. The two big-hitters had done enough to haul the Knight Riders past 170.
The chase that wasn’t
In the chase, Smith stabbed at Cummins’ first ball and missed. The second ball nearly kissed the edge. The third one was plinked over mid-off. Smith then had a massive swing at Cummins’ fourth, so much that he lost his shape and fell away down the leg side. The resultant inside edge was snaffled by Karthik.
Jos Buttler, though, used the extra pace of Cummins to his advantage and pulled off a signature ramped six. Just when it looked like Buttler was finding a higher tempo, Mavi took him and the in-form Sanju Samson down in successive overs.
Samson was the first to go, flapping a hard-length delivery to midwicket while Butter reached out to a wide delivery outside off and picked out short third man for 21 off 16 balls. Cummins and Mavi bowled five of the six overs in the powerplay, returning combined figures of 5-0-24-2. By the time Kamlesh Nagarkoti entered the attack and got Robin Uthappa and Riyan Parag in the same over, Royals were 42 for 5 and the asking rate 11.
Curran struck 54 not out off 36 balls around the slide, 27 of which came off 12 balls from Narine. Varun Chakravarthy, the other mystery spinner, was more impressive, coming away with 2 for 25 in his four overs. In the end, the Knight Riders needed just three overs from Kuldeep Yadav and none at all from Russell.
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