Rajasthan Royals’ poor ‘away’ record continues

Kolkata Knight Riders rekindled its hopes with an eight-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals in a Pepsi IPL-VI match here at the Eden Gardens on Friday evening.

With the losses far outnumbering the wins in its kitty, the defending champion got back into form against a more successful opponent to keep itself in the hunt for a play-off berth.

Determined display

Buoyed by a disciplined bowling that restricted Rajasthan Royals to 132 for six, Knight Riders batted in a determined fashion to overhaul the target with 16 balls to spare. The win should restore some confidence in the tentative KKR outfit, which will now have to play the remaining five matches outside ‘home’. This was KKR’s last outing at the Eden Gardens in the league stage as it will play the next two ‘home’ matches at Ranchi (on May 12 and 15).

Picking up its fourth win in 11 matches, Knight Riders tallied eight points to continue in the seventh position in the standings. Royals remained in the third spot with 12 points from 10 matches.

Yusuf Pathan, who struggled for form in his team’s last 10 outings, finally delivered in his characteristic manner and remained unbeaten on 49 to help the host to one of its most convincing wins this season.

Yusuf, whose previous best was 27 against Royal Challengers Bangalore, took control of proceedings and did not let the initiative slip out of the hands after Gautam Gambhir (12) and Manvinder Bisla (29) gave a racy start to the host’s run chase.

Yusuf partnered Jacques Kallis (33 not out) for an unbeaten 78-run stand for the third wicket to help the host cruise.

Royals, who have an impeccable record at home, failed to replicate the success and lost the fourth ‘away’ game in 10 outings.

Productive batting

Earlier, Sanju Vishwanadh (40) and Shane Watson (35) were the most productive of the Royals batsmen and they steered the team total to respectability.

The two pulled the Royals innings which could not really escape the spin dragnet thrown by the host. Watson struggled to find the big shots and eventually perished to Sunil Narine in the 11th over. England batsman Owais Shah (24) joined Samson for the fifth wicket and their 34-run stand sustained the Royals’ innings.

Narine revels

Sunil Narine (4-0-20-1) enjoyed the conditions and bowled his best in the 19th over when he gave away only four runs. Rajat Bhatia (4-0-21-1) bowled his gentle mediumpace effectively.

Rahul Dravid adopted the ‘horses for courses’ policy as Royals brought in three changes to the side. Wicketkeeper Dishant Yagnik, and two left-arm spinners Brad Hogg and Ankit Chavan were brought in for S. Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Brad Hodge.

KKR also strengthened its spin option by including Senanayake and Abdulla while keeping the pacers Lakshmipathy Balaji and Brett Lee in the dugout. It also released Brendon McCullum, who will be joining his national side on the tour of England.

Scoreboard

Rajasthan Royals: Shane Watson lbw b Narine 35 (35b, 4x4), Ajinkya Rahane st. Bisla b Senanayake 6 (10b, 1x4), James Faulkner c Gambhir b Abdulla 1 (4b), Sanju Vishwanadh c Kallis b Bhatia 40 (36b, 1x4, 2x6), Dishant Yagnik b Senanayake 10 (6b, 2x4), Owais Shah b Kallis 24 (22b, 2x4), Stuart Binny (not out) 3 (5b), Rahul Dravid (not out) 6 (3b, 1x4); Extras (lb-1, w-5, nb-1): 7; Total (for six wkts. in 20 overs): 132.

Fall of wickets: 1-20 (Rahane), 2-27 (Faulkner), 3-71 (Watson), 4-83 (Yagnik), 5-117 (Vishwanadh), 6-126 (Shah).

Kolkata Knight Riders bowling: Sumit Narwal 2-0-17-0, Sachithra Senanayake 4-0-26-2, Iqbal Abdulla 3-0-22-1, Jacques Kallis 3-0-25-1, Sunil Narine 4-0-20-1, Rajat Bhatia 4-0-21-1.

Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir st. Yagnik b Watson 12 (14b, 1x4), Manvinder Bisla c Rahane b Chavan 29 (25b, 4x4, 1x6), Jacques Kallis (not out) 33 (30b, 2x4, 1x6), Yusuf Pathan (not out) 49 (35b, 3x4, 3x6); Extras (lb-5, w-5): 10; Total (for two wkts. in 17.2 overs): 133.

Fall of wickets: 1-41 (Gambhir), 2-55 (Bisla).

Rajasthan Royals bowling: Ankit Chavan 3-0-28-1, James Faulkner 4-0-16-0, Shane Watson 3-0-21-1, Brad Hogg 3.2-0-31-0, Siddharth Trivedi 3-0-24-0, Stuart Binny 1-0-8-0.

Man-of-the-match: Yusuf Pathan.

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