Express News Service
CHENNAI: At the halfway mark, Kolkata Knight Riders were going at less than run-a-ball (59 for two) in the chase against Rajasthan Royals at the Wankhede Stadium. Shreyas Iyer and Nitish Rana were in the middle with 94 runs needed from 60 balls. While the former was batting at 26 runs from as many balls, the southpaw was at eight from 11.
Sanju Samson had rotated his bowlers well while saving his best bet, Yuzvendra Chahal, for the second half. If there was a moment for the Kolkata duo to put their foot down and accelerate, this was it. And Nitish Rana did exactly that. As R Ashwin came on to bowl the eleventh over, Rana welcomed him with a reverse sweep of sorts over short-thirdman for a four. He followed it up with a slog sweep for a six over deep midwicket and a repeat of the first ball on the third. All of a sudden, KKR was 73 for two in 10.3 overs. In a span of three balls, he had turned the momentum around.
Shreyas did his part, hitting Chahal for a six in the next over as KKR were well on their path towards the target with consistent strike rotation off those deliveries that weren’t boundaries. Rana kept it going with a boundary of Trent Boult, but Shreyas, once again, fell to a short-pitched delivery from the left-arm pacer after a 32-ball 34.
With 61 needed from 43 balls, everyone expected Andre Russell to come out, but it was Rinku Singh who joined Rana in the middle and made sure that the dismissal had no effect on the proceedings as he guided Boult for a four off the very first delivery . All of a sudden, it was KKR’s game to lose.
The duo played out Chahal and Ashwin safely. But when Kuldeep Sen was brought back, Rinku smashed a six and four off him – a ridiculous scoop over fine-leg and a hook off the pacer. He was in such a zone that the southpaw took the attack to Chahal in the next over, hitting consecutive boundaries. Everytime a bowler was brought on, KKR tried to get a boundary or two in the first few deliveries, putting the pressure back for the rest of the over.
18 runs were needed off 12 at that point. A rare misfield from Boult led to a boundary off Rinku’s bat in the Prasidh Krishna over. As the pressure was building on Prasidh, it surely didn’t help RR’s case as he had to bowl two more extra deliveries due to debatable wide calls from the umpire. Rinku made the most, hitting another four off the last ball and Rana finished things off in the first delivery of the final over. While Rinku hit a 23-ball 42, Rana scored 48 from 37 balls as Kolkata secured a much-needed win with five balls to spare. Earlier, Skipper Sanju Samson made a 49-ball 54 for RR that set up the game for Shimron Hetmyer, who hit a 13-ball 27, to take them to 152/5 in 20 overs.
Brief scores: RR 152/5 in 20 ovs (Samson 54; Southee 2/46) lost to KKR 158/3 in 19.1 ovs (Rana 48 no, Rinku 42 no).