Rajasthan Royals were the only undefeated team in this year’s edition of the Indian Premier League going into their clash against the Kolkata Knight Riders in Dubai on Wednesday. But what ensued on the night was a far cry from the mighty performances Rajasthan has put on so far.
Royals skipper Steve Smith won the toss and elected to field first.
Still persisting with Sunil Narine as opener despite below average performances, Kolkata lost the West Indian inside the powerplay for an underwhelming 15 off 14 balls.
Nitish Rana played a useful 22 off 17 balls before Rahul Tewatia sent him packing. Kolkata 82/2 in 9.6 overs.
Shubman Gill was showing glimpses of the form he displayed against Sunrisers Hyderabad a few days ago, finding the boundary at regular intervals and looking like he was setting up for a big innings.
That’s when Smith brought Jofra Archer back - an attacking move with the lightning quick pacer having clocked 150 kph in his first spell of one over.
Archer delivered instantly - a 140 kph delivery sending Gill back to the pavilion for 47 off 34 balls.
KKR had pushed Andre Russell up the order to number 4, hoping for some big hits to propel them to a big total and Archer decided to show him who’s boss right away with an almost 150 kph delivery that whizzed past Russell’s helmet.
While Russell survived Archer’s onslaught, KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik was not so lucky - falling in the 14th over after Archer found the outside edge of his bat. Kolkata 106/4.
Russell muscled a useful 24 off 14 balls before Ankit Rajpoot got rid of him before he did any major damage.
But a quickfire 34* off 23 balls by Eoin Morgan meant that Kolkata put up a respectable 174/6 in their 20 overs.
Most would have predicted that Rajasthan would chase the score down, given their performances in the tournament so far but what ensued would have made Royals fans cringe.
With team owner and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan in the stands, KKR had extra motivation to win the match.
Steve Smith looked completely out of sorts, especially against Kolkata quick Pat Cummins, who ended the opposing skipper’s misery in the second over, dismissing him for 3 off 7 balls.
KKR have made some of the wisest bowling picks amongst the eight IPL teams, in particular Indian youngsters Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti, who greatly impressed with their performances in the 2018 Under-19 Cricket World Cup.
The team has invested a lot in their rehabilitation and maintenance after injuries and are now reaping the benefits of the immense talent of these two young Indian quicks.
With Rajasthan at 15/1 after 2 overs, all hopes were pinned on their batting arsenal of Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson, Robin Uthappa and Riyan Parag.
However, Mavi and Nagarkoti had other ideas.
Samson went in the 5th over - Mavi’s 135kph delivery resulting in a drag to midwicket for a gentle catch to Narine.
In his very next over, the youngster had sent the dangerous looking Buttler back for 21 off 16 balls. Rajasthan in a lot of trouble at 39/3 after 6.1 overs.
Enter Nagarkoti to bowl the 8th over and he made short work of both Uthappa and Parag.
Uthappa falling on the first ball, Parag out three balls later - Rajasthan now tottering at 42/5 with an asking rate of 11.
Any hopes of Rahul Tewatia pulling off a miracle like he did in the last match were soon put to rest by yet another young Indian bowler, Varun Chakravarthy when he dismissed him for 14 off 10 balls in the 11th over.
Shreyas Gopal, Archer and Jaydev Unadkat all failed to cross 10 runs and it was only a great cameo by Tom Curran of 54 off 36 balls that saved Rajasthan from a very embarrassing scoreline.
Eventually the Royals managed 137/9 in their 20 overs, losing by 37 runs and thus ending their undefeated streak.
Shivam Mavi was named Man of the Match for his figures of 20/2 in 4 overs at an economy of 5.00.
KKR have now jumped from seventh to second on the points table.