Andre Russell of Kolkata Knight Riders tries to keep his balance next to the stumps during his 25-ball 49 against Rajasthan Royals in the first eliminator at The Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Kolkata Knight Riders posted a challenging 169 for 7 after overcoming a bad start against Rajasthan Royals in the Eliminator at the Eden Gardens. Skipper Dinesh Karthik lifted Kolkata out of trouble through a quick knock of 52 off 38 balls with four boundaries and two sixes. Andre Russell too cracked a breezy unbeaten 49 runs off 25 balls with three boundaries and five sixes.

Karthik also got good support from Shubman Gill who chipped in with 28 runs.

It was a dramatic start to the eliminator with Kolkata opener and inform batsman Sunil Narine hitting the first ball of the match for a boundary from off break bowler Krishanappa Gowtham to the boundary. With the second ball Gowtham had Narine stumped by wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen when the batsman stepped out.

In the third over, Gowtham struck again to have Robin Uthappa caught and bowled for just 3. Going across the line, Uthapa’s leading edge resulted in a return catch. Worse was to follow when Jofra Archer had Nitish Rana, who went for a slog caught by Jaydev Unadkat at mid-wicket for 3. Three wickets down for 24 runs in the fourth over, walked in Karthik.

Opener Chris Lynn, who kept the score board moving too departed in the eighth over to leg spinner Shreyas Gopal for 18. Lynn fell to a googly from Gopal that pitched on the off and had him caught and bowled. The quick wickets silenced the Kolkata supporters. All eyes turned towards 18-year-old Gill who had played some good knocks in this edition.

At the half way mark Kolkata were 63 for 4. In the 11th over, Gill hit Ben Laughlin for a boundary guiding the pacer to the third man boundary. Karthik too had picked a boundary off Gopal in the 10th over.

Intense pressure

Leg break bowler Ish Sodhi bowled a tight 13th over. The pressure kept mounting on Kolkata for some big hits.

Gill picked a boundary off the third ball of the 14th over from Gopal by placing his shot past point and the next ball he lifted him for a six over long off. Karthik too got a six off the last ball of that over to pick 20 runs off the over. They recorded their 50 runs partnership too in that over.

When it looked like partnership would swell, Archer made Gill edge to wicketkeeper Klaasen for 28.

The crowd cheered Russell to the crease hoping for some big hits. Russel lifting Archer for a six over long on obliged to the crowd’s demand. Sodhi bowled another brilliant over giving away just two runs in the 16th over.

Karthik reached his half century in just 35 balls by hitting a scoop six over the wicketkeeper’s head off Unadkat. Russell too hit Unadkat for a six over long on. He also slapped the next ball past extra cover for a boundary. Kolkata picked 19 runs off that over but Karthik departed to the first ball of the 18th over from Laughlin, caught by captain Rahane at cover for 52. Russell punished the next ball from Laughlin for a six to deep mid-wicket and also swung the last ball for another six to take 14 runs off the over.