Kolkata Knight Riders player
Kolkata Knight Riders players celebrate the wicket of Rahul Tewatia of Rajasthan Royals. Image Credit: Sportzpics for BCCI

Intent. There was plenty of it in the Kolkata Knight Riders’ game on Sunday. That aggression translated into a 60-run victory over Rajasthan Royals in Dubai. A victory that may fetch them a place in the last-four of IPL 2020. On the sheer strength of Sunday’s display, Kolkata deserve to qualify.

It was a must-win game for both the teams. The losers lose any hope of a playoff berth, while the winners keep alive their chances in the hope that the other aspirants stumble. Kolkata wanted to win more badly than Rajasthan. That intent was evident in their approach. Kolkata played a free-flowing game even after they a lost a wicket to the second ball of the match.

The run rate was healthy throughout, barring a wobble. Once captain Eoin Morgan took charge, Kolkata imposed themselves with Andre Russell muscling in a cameo. A total of 191 can test the best of teams, but not Rajasthan. They needed a good start like the one against the Mumbai Indians. They got 19 runs in the first over bowled by Pat Cummins — the most expensive over of the season. But Rajasthan lost a wicket too. And that was the start of a procession of batmen.

Here’s where the approach of the teams differed. Kolkata came with a firm game plan and played with a freedom that allowed them to maintain a good run rate. But Rajasthan seemed to follow the tactics that won them the last two games. But the Kolkata game had a twist; they lost wickets early. Far too many. Five wickets in the powerplay, and it would have taken a miracle to pull off a victory. There were no magicians in the Rajasthan side.

Kolkata may have won, but aren‘t assured of a playoff slot. That would depend on the last two games of the competition. Not a reassuring thought. But they don’t have a choice. And their patchy form throughout the tournament has to be blamed for that. They won and lost big, The uncertainty is the prize for that inconsistency.

Rajasthan didn’t deserve a last-four slot. The started well but were inept for a long spell before their found their bearings. A resurgence helped kindle some hope, and that remained a hope. They loss against Kolkata snuffed that out. A sad commentary on a side that’s packed with four world-class overseas players. Just goes on to show that talent alone is not enough, especially in a team game.

So, while the Rajasthan players pack their bags, Kolkata players will be keeping their eyes peeled for the results of the two remaining two games. They would be praying for a meltdown for the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Their wish could come true. For Hyderabad are an unpredictable side.