The eliminator between Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals seemed to be heading towards yet another last-over thriller of this IPL season before RR messed their chase-up to lose by 25 runs and hand KKR a comfortable victory at the end. Here, we listed out five crucial points of the match which determined the course of the game.
1. Early Breakthroughs for Rajasthan Royals :
RR’s opening bowlers, Gowtham and Archer bowled their hearts out on a pitch which was aiding the bowlers.They pegged the run flow and reduced KKR to 24/3 under the 4-over mark. The key batsmen Narine, Utthappa and Rana were already back in the hut and KKR’s innings seemed to be heading towards a downhill when they lost their opener Lynn at the 51-run mark at the completion of 8th over.
2. Karthik & Shubman Gill’s Fightback:
After losing their top 4 batsmen, Karthik & Gill started fighting themselves back into the game. Gill, batted freely at an impressive strike rate of 164 while Karthik, the batsman, once again came to the fore, this time, rising to the occasion with a masterly-crafted half-century. Both the batsmen realised that boundaries were hard to come by against the spinners and so rotated the strike very well without letting the run rate steep to an alarmingly low rate.
3. Russell, the Finisher:
When KKR lost Shubman Gill to Jofra Archer, the scorecard read 106/5 at 14.2 overs. With 34 balls left in the game and having adequate overs from the overseas bowlers Sodhi, Laughlin and Archer, KKR required a very good finish to reach the 150-mark on a sluggish wicket. Then arrived Russell, who completely changed the game into KKR’s favour with his blistering 25-ball 49 knock, which was composed of 5 sixes and 3 fours and helped KKR reach a strong total of 169 in their 20 overs.
4. Royals’ Top-order Set the Tone:
Rahane and Tripathi began Rajasthan’s chase on a great note. Rahane, who seemed off-colour throughout this season, finally seemed to have attained back his touch. After Tripathi’s departure, Samson arrived to the crease and didn’t let the momentum steam away by scoring runs at a brisk pace. RR utilised the powerplay to a good extent, scoring 51 runs for the loss of Tripathi. The phase post-powerplay too went in RR’s favour when they were comfortably seated at 87 for the loss of only one wicket after completion of half of the second innings.
5. The Phase Where Rajasthan Royals Lost:
In the overs 11-16, Rajasthan were able to score only 32 runs, losing Rahane in the course. The batsmen Rahane and Samson were not able to rotate the strike in these overs against the spinners and looked to score only in the form of boundaries. This put them under immense pressure and led to the downfall of Rahane and Samson, who forced themselves into playing the big shots to their perish.
What RR lacked was the application which was earlier applied by Karthik and Gill against their spinners, where the batsmen rotated the strike and kept the scoreboard ticking. The Rajasthan batsmen failed to rotate the strike against KKR spinners, which led to them ending up in a high-pressure situation and losing the game. Sending Heinrich Klaasen and Stuart Binny above Krishnappa Goutham, a naturally attacking batsman who has the ability and the skills to hit boundaries at will against both the spinners and pacers, didn’t help the Royals’ cause either. Maybe Goutham could’ve been the catalyst RR required to chase the target down.
Poor strike rotation and holding Goutham back resulted in Kolkata Knight Riders snatching a comfortable 25-run victory from the hands of Rajasthan Royals.