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Kolkata Knight Riders played some smart cricket to outwit Rajasthan Royals and end their losing slide with a seven-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League Season 2022 at the Wankhede Stadium.

Chasing a small target of 153, Shreyas Iyer, Nitish Rana and Rinku Singh all looked comfortable, may be they knew the target or the wicket eased with a bit of dew. Rinku showed his batting skills by dominating the bowling, coming in after the fall of Shreyas. The left-hander was in full flow, playing a full range of shots with an unbeaten 42 in the 66-run partnership to take Kolkata home. Rana remained unbeaten on 48 to win the match with five balls to spare.

Right from the toss nothing went right for Rajasthan skipper Sanju Samson, who has made it a habit to lose the toss. Though he has won many matches after being put in to bat, this game has proved different.

Rajasthan’s prolific scorer Jos Buttler could not find his rhythm on a slow wicket that was utilized the best by the Kolkata bowlers with some smart bowling change by skipper Shreyas Iyer.

Samson might not have been right with the toss, but he was spot on with his footwork and timing and made batting look easy on a wicket that where none of the other batters were comfortable.

Umesh Yadav made the most of the early bounce and swing and trouble Buttler and Samson while also picking the wicket of Devdutt Padikkal. It was a clinical performance from Kolkata, but still opening partnership is an area of concern.

Once again Rajasthan’s limitations were exposed and it could get only worse with the wickets getting slower and slower, not giving Buttler the freedom to play his shots. But for Tim Southee’s 20-run 19th over, Rajasthan could have finished with a far lower total after being 115/5 in 17.1 overs, losing Samson and Riyan Parag in two successive balls of two different overs.

How it happened

Rinku Singh is showing that he has nerves of steel

Unsung heroes are taking the centrestage again. The lesser-known Rinku Singh, the livewire on the field, is showing no signs of nerves and is keeping Kolkata firmly in the chase. Giving him company is Rana and the pair is putting on a smart partnership. Kuldeep Sen, who gave away a six off the first ball, has comeback strongly to concede just seven in the over. Wonderful contest, but still Kolkata have the edge. Big man Dre Russ is up next and should fancy the fast bowlers. After 16, KKR are 114/3, needing 39 of 24 balls. Southee’s 20-run over could comeback to hurt Knight Riders.

Shreyas Iyer falls against the run of play

Against the run of play, Bolt gets skipper Shreyas Iyer caught behind of the leg-side. Smart batting had been the hallmark of this partnership, but this shot was far from it. Still, Rana is the big hope. The left-hander is showing signs of manipulating the field and use it to the best. After 13, KKR are 96/3. Still a long way to go with 57 off 42 balls.

Kolkata’s calculated assault leaves Rajasthan bowlers in a spin

Nitish Rana took the challenge and targeted the best bowler in Rajasthan, Ashwin. The left-hander’s reverse sweep and slog sweep resulted in 16 runs from the over and more importantly gave the chase the momentum after breaking the shackles. It has also brought the asking rate down. While Rana took on the off-spinner, Shreyas took on the leg-spinner. After the assault, with the fielders on the edge of the circle, both batters were also looking for quick singles. Rajasthan need a wicket, desperately. After 12 overs, KKR are 85/2. Sanju is ready to unleash his thunder Bolt for one last time.

Time to move on for Kolkata

The game is on knife edge now. After 10 overs, Kolkata are 59/2, needing another 94 off 60 balls. One of the two batters need to look for singles and take chances while the other plays the second fiddle. Kolkata, time to move on.

Rana and Shreyas are not losing their patience

Kolkata are adopting a cautious approach to go towards the target. Both Rana and skipper Iyer are negating some intense bowling. What is important is that they have to have the wickets on hand and one of them need to play till the end. Ashwin showed that there is bounce and spin on the wicket with a vicious delivery that spun and bounced to miss Rana’s edge. After 9 overs, KKR are 50/2. Not far behind Rajasthan.

Partnership crucial for KKR chase

With both openers gone, Baba Indrajit caught by statemate Ashwin off a perfect bouncer from Prasidh Krishna, Kolkata have their best pair to take them closer to the target. Nitish Rana has joined the skipper and both the batters have got some runs so far this season and it is crucial they continue to do so in today’s clash. The left-right combination will also make it difficult for the spinners. After 6 powerplay overs, KKR are 32/2, Rajasthan were 38/1 at the same stage.

Chance for Shreyas to prove a point

What confidence to batting was clearly evident. Off-colour Finch was bowled after playing on to his stums, at sea to the ball that was outside the off stump. The next ball skipper Shreyas Iyer timed a similar delivery to perfection, dispatching it to the cover boundary. The talented batter need to show his captaincy skills and should put his hands up and lead from the front. Certainly he needs to prove a point. After 4 overs, Kolkata are 21/1.

Steady start for another new opening duo

One thing is certain for Kolkata. You will always find a new opening partnership beginning Purple team’s innings. This time it was Baba Indrajit who walked out along with Aaron Finch. However, despite some hostile bowling from Rajasthan, the duo survived the early overs. After 2 overs, Kolkata are 11/0 loss. Kolkata need make the most of the shorter sides when the spinners come on to bowl.

Slow wicket to help spinners

Sanju Samson’s half-century was the sole bright spot in Rajasthan’s innings that never found its rhythm and failed to take off against a spirited Kolkata bowling at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday.

Right from the start the profilic Jos Buttler failed to get any of his trademark shots and struggled to force the pace. Umesh Yadav, Ankul Roy and Sunil Narine all kept the Rajasthan batters on a tight leash and the early wicket of Devdutt Padikkal compounded the situation.

Barring Samson, none of the other batters were at ease on a wicket that gripped a bit and did not give any room for strokeplay. After Buttler, Karun Nair and Riyan Parag all tried to accelerate only in vain.

The double wicket of Samson and Parag in two deliveries of two overs left Rajasthan at 115/5 after 17.1 overs. But Shimron Hetmyer’s calculated assault took them to 152/5 in 20 overs, certainly a total to defend.

Rajasthan managed to reach the 150-run mark, thanks to Southee’s generosity towards the end, where he was not half as best as he was in his first three overs. After bowling two slot deliveries that was promptly dispatched to two sixes, the veteran New Zealander bowled two wides to help Rajasthan go closer to the 150-run mark after conceding 20 runs in over number 19.

Certainly, this wicket doesn’t look like 180 and the Rajasthan spinners will get plenty of purchase from the slow pitch. But dew could make the pitch lose that grip and make batting easier. A good start is essential and someone needs to bat one end as the target is not daunting and eschew bad shots for Kolkata to break the losing trend.

Rajasthan in deep trouble with twin wickets

Rajasthan are not able to break the shackles and are falling miserably in their bid to push the scoring. Two wickets in two balls of Riyan Parag and skipper Samson has pushed them in serious trouble. The score is not good enough to contain Kolkata at this moment and after 17.1 overs, Rajasthan are 115/5. Need another 50 off 17 balls, which is extremely unlikely.

Another half-century for Rajasthan skipper

Karun Nair’s run a ball knock comes to an end. He could never get his timing right and never got his innings going. Barring the one four, a half-volley from Southee, Nair has not done anything of note. More pressure on Samson, who has added another half-century (No 17 in his career and second this season) to his credit. But for Samson, the job is only half done. After 14 overs, 100/3.

Samson needs to play till the end

Barring Samson, none of the other batters are finding their timing. That show how special talent the Rajasthan skipper his. But after getting the start, he needs to continue for a long time to give his team a challenging total. Don’t throw away your wicket. Wait till the end. After 11 overs, Rajasthan are 74/2.

Big wicket for Kolkata who are tightening their grip

Kolkata must be breathing easily after getting Buttler’s wicket. Mavi took a brilliant running catch at long-on in Southee’s first over to push Rajasthan in bigger trouble. But it is a chance for Shimron Hetmyer to showcase his best. In comes Karun Nair. After 9 overs, Royals are 58/2. Kolkata tightening their grip on the game.

Kolkata are keeping Royals quiet

Kolkata bowlers are keeping the Rajasthan batters under control. Though it is still not alarming, Rajasthan are 49/1 after 8 overs, the worry for Royals is the back spasm of Samson. Hopefully, he will not feel any pain that will restrict his batting. Otherwise, he is set for his hundred of the season.

Samson is in ominous touch

Rajasthan have not got the best start to the powerplay, but nevertheless their best batters, Buttler and Samson, are getting their timing. Rajasthan skipper is looking ominous and should aim to play till the end. After 6 overs, Rajasthan are 38/1.

Umesh gets rewarded for brilliant spell

Umesh Yadav is finally rewarded. After trouble Jos Buttler in an unsuccessful first over, the Indian pacer dismissed Devdutt Padikkal off the first ball of his second over. The dry wicket suggests the bowlers should get plenty of help and the manner in which Padikkal got out suggested that the ball is holding back slightly. Even Buttler is not finding his touch. Samson is looking good and a big knock is due from him. It could be today. After 3 overs, Rajasthan are 7/1.

Shreyas Iyer wins toss and elects to field

It’s an important toss for Kolkata to keep their hopes alive and skipper Shreyas Iyer was lucky to start on the right note. The Kolkata captain has elected to field after winning the toss. Knight Riders have dropped Venkatesh Iyer, the prolific scorer last season, and brought in Ankul Roy and Shivam Mavi in place of Harshit Rana. Sanju Samson, who has lost another toss, has made one change, Karun Nair replaces Daryll Mitchell.

Right start is crucial

Dubai: Kolkata Knight Riders started the Indian Premier League 2022 with plenty of hope, a new captain and plenty of good acquisition in the auction, before the start of the new season. But all that hope has dissipated and the last season’s finalists once again have flattered to deceive in Season 15 after five consecutive losses.

One of the prime reasons for the numerous losses is the unsettled combination of the team. The constant chopping and changing has left the entire team members in disarray. After nine games, the Shreyas Iyer-led team are still searching for the right opening combination, which is crucial to a Twenty20 game.

The one big difference from last year is that the previous captain Eoin Morgan was not scoring runs, while Shreyas has been in good touch. However, what Shreyas failed to do is to marshalling his troops in the right manner.

It was against the Rajasthan Royals that he lost his cool and was screaming at Venkatesh Iyer after missing a run and the next over the match turned on its head with Yuzvendra Chahal claiming four wickets, including a hat-trick.

On the backdrop of all these issues, Knight Riders have many battle-scarred knights who could turn the match around and is certainly just a win away from finding their winning form back.

Fabulous touch

A looking at Rajasthan Royals gives the impressing that the team wear a settled look with each and every player knowing their roles. Jos Buttler is extending his fabulous touch and will be eager to score another hundred against Kolkata, just the way he did the last time around.

But the over-reliance on Buttler in batting and the spinners — Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal — in bowling is too risky and will not always carry them to safety. Mumbai showed how vulnerable Rajasthan batting and bowling is en route to their first win this season.

Though Rajasthan are strong on paper, Kolkata will be able to avenge their seven-run loss in today’s clash at Wankhede Stadium.