Good comeback by Royals’ bowlers sends KKR to the bottom
Taken to the cleaners by the Royal Challengers Bangalore batters on Thursday, Rajasthan Royals’ (RR) bowlers bounced back with a disciplined display to limit Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to 133/9, and set up their team’s second victory in the Indian Premier League.
Opting to bowl first, RR’s highest-paid player Chris Morris led from the front with a four-wicket haul. Their left-arm pace troika of Jaydev Unadkat, Chetan Sakariya and Mustafizur Rahman also put up an inspired performance to redeem its reputation and throttle the KKR batting line-up.
After the mauling in their previous game when they failed to take a wicket, it was certainly a fine comeback for the bowlers. Against RCB, Morris had figures 3-0-38-0, Rahman 3.3-0-34-0 and Sakariya 4-0-35-0 as Virat Kohli and Devdutt Padikkal scored 181 runs in just 16.3 overs. Against KKR, Morris had a return of 4-0-23-4, Mustafizur 4-0-22-1 and Sakariya with 4-0-31-1.
Of the first six overs RR used only one from Morris, the rest was left-arm stuff. Unadkat (2 overs for nine runs), Sakariya (one over for five) and Rahman (two overs for nine) ensured the KKR top-order couldn’t free their arms as only two fours were conceded. At the end of the powerplay overs, KKR were 25/1. They never recovered from the slow start.
It was a strange batting tactics from KKR. They made it look like they were still batting on the Chennai pitch rather than the Mumbai ground which provides great value for shots as seen when Sanju Samson (42 not out) and David Miller (24 not out) were batting. The fifth wicket pair made it an easy chase with six wickets to spare.
It was KKR’s fourth straight defeat sending them to the bottom of the table.
The Kolkata team paid the price for being too conservative in their approach. As it’s difficult to cover up for the balls later on, setting the tone is the name of the game in T20. If you get out playing a shot, so be it. On a good batting pitch, Eoin Morgan’s men were 55 for three after 10 overs, a run rate of 5.50.
Rahul Tripathi was the only one showed intent from the start. He charged out to the first ball he faced and smashed it for four in the seventh over. With Rana, he picked 12 and 8 runs off the seventh and eight overs. But the KKR innings collapsed from the start of the ninth over when Sakariya sent back Rana. A total of 17 runs were scored for the loss of three wickets in the three overs from nine to 11 to be 62 for four after 11 overs.
When Tripathi also got out for 36 (26 balls) in the 16th over, it was all down to Andre Russell and Dinesh Karthik. They had four slog overs to capitalise and finish strongly.
Morris dashed all such hopes with a double blow in the 18th over. The South African pacer picked the wicket of Russell on the fourth ball and Karthik on the sixth to reduce KKR to 118/7 and end their last hopes of getting to a decent total.
Bowling the penultimate over, Rahman conceded nine runs. Cummins hit a six off the first ball of the 20th over by Morris but was caught next ball.
Speaking to the official broadcaster, Morris said: “It was good to come out and restrict them. It’s not an easy wicket, like you see. I think the last game (against RCB) when one gets a 100 and 80 - you have to take your hats off and say ‘okay’. It was a rude game. T20 is a rude game. It’s our responsibility to entertain people. We do quite a lot of homework (against Russell). Sometimes you get lucky. I bowled it in the slot and he mishit it. I don't want to give too many plans away.”
RR were 54 for two in 6.4 overs meaning it was run-a-ball from then on. They lost wickets at regular intervals but Samson held up one end. At the end of the 15th over, it was 104/4 -- the equation 30 off 30 balls with the RR captain batting on 36. Miller hit a flurry of boundaries to ensure there was no late drama and clinch the chase.