Kolkata Knight Riders spinners proved too wily for Rajasthan Royals batters, helping the side set up a seven-wicket win during their Indian Premier League return leg fixture at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Monday.
All-rounder Anukul Roy shone with the ball in his first outing in purple-and-gold, finishing with figures of 4-0-28-1 as KKR finally got its campaign back on track after five straight losses. Sunil Narine was impressive as usual, conceding just 19 in his four overs.
After Shreyas Iyer chose to bowl, Umesh Yadav provided the breakthrough with a blinder off his own bowling to send Devdutt Padikkal back.
Jos Buttler struggled against Narine. With skipper Sanju Samson (54, 49b, 7×4, 1×6), the English opener only managed to take Royals to 38 in the PowerPlay.
Tim Southee snared the big fish in the ninth over. Buttler, looking to break the shackles, flat-batted to a leaping Shivam Mavi at long-on.
Karun Nair fell to Anukul next, who smartly dragged his length back. Riyan Parag also took the long walk back shortly after. Samson, meanwhile, huffed and puffed to a fifty before skying a full-length delivery to deep mid-wicket.
Shimron Hetmyer (27, 13b, 1×4, 2×6) breathed some much-needed life into the innings as 30 runs were scored in the last two overs.
Chasing 153, KKR openers Aaron Finch and Baba Indrajith didn’t last long. Finch dragged Kuldeep Sen’s back-of-a-length delivery onto the stumps, while Indrajith miscued a pull to Ravichandran Ashwin at fine-leg. KKR soon found itself in familiar waters at 32 for two after six overs.
Royals possess two of the three bowlers who have taken the most wickets against Knight Riders – Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal. The duo tried to check the flow of runs. But Shreyas (34, 32b, 3×4, 1×6) and Nitish Rana (48 n.o., 37b, 3×4, 2×6) kept the scoreboard ticking.
Rana, who hasn’t been dismissed by Ashwin in the IPL, took on the off-spinner in the 11th over, smashing him for two fours and a six.
The 60-run partnership off 43 balls came to an end when Samson confidently went upstairs to review a wide call. Although it seemed Shreyas had played and missed, UltraEdge suggested otherwise.
Rinku Singh (42, 23b, 6×4, 1×6) took matters into his own hands when he walked in at 92 for three after 12.5 overs and with support from Rana – his contribution to the 66-run stand was only 17 – the target never looked big enough.