Kolkata restrict Rajasthan
A spin-reliant Kolkata Knight Riders took full use of the sluggish Eden surface to thrash Rajasthan Royals by eight wickets in their must-win Pepsi Indian Premier League match on Friday.
Knight Riders, playing with three spinners in Sachithra Senanayake (2-26), Sunil Narine (1-20) and Iqbal Abdulla (1-22), choked the Royals who could not break free with only 30 runs coming in the last five overs.
Having bowled well to restrict Rajasthan Royals to a modest 132 for six, the home team raced home with 16 balls to spare.
Image: Sunil Narine is congratulated by his teammates
Senanayake took two wickets
The embattled Knight Riders went into the match with a three-pronged spin attack, bringing in Senanayake and left-arm spinner Abdulla alongside their trump card Narine.
It's a ploy that had given them results in the past on the Eden surface and they, once again, relied heavily on their spinners with their batters misfiring.
Opting to bat, Dravid too had some interesting strategy up his sleeve when he sent James Faulkner at No.3 after Ajinkya Rahane (6) was foxed by Senanayake in an attempt to step out.
Knight Riders had Royals in trouble at 83-4 in the 13th over when Dishant Yagnik (10) became Senanayake's second victim.
Image: Sachitra Senanayake is congratulated by his teammates after taking the wicket of Ajinkya Rahane
Watson made 35
Shane Watson made run-a-ball 35 and shared 44-run third-wicket partnership with Sanju Samson (40) after the visitors were reduced to 27 for two.
Watson remained at the crease as he along with Samson re-built their innings with the rookie Kerala youngster showing a positive temperament.
Image: Shane Watson
Narine was impressive yet again
Just when the Royals looked in recovery mode, Knight Riders expectedly brought in their trump card Sunil Narine in the 11th over and, as always, the mystery spinner did not disappoint taking the prized scalp of Watson.
Right from the first ball, Narine troubled Watson with his line and length as the Aussie had an anxious outing for four balls before perishing when he was trapped in the middle-stump line.
Narine finished with figures of one for 20.
Image: Sunil Narine celebrates the wicket of Shane Watson
Samson top-scored with 40
Sanju Samson (40, 36 balls, 1x4, 2x6) was the top-scorer for Royals.
Fresh from a match-winning 63 against Royals Challengers Bangalore, Samson looked in fine nick and made his intentions clear pulling Abdulla over midwicket for a maximum.
Samson, however, failed to cash in on a dropped chance as he was dismissed in the next over caught at long on by Jacques Kallis.
His fall spelt doom for Royals as runs dried up for the visitors.
Image: Sanju Samson
There was some heated exchange in the middle
Chasing a modest 133, the Knight Riders set the tone with Gautam Gambhir (12) and Manvinder Bisla (29) sharing a 41-run opening-wicket partnership that came off just 33 balls.
Bisla stepped out to Chavan for a six over long-on in the third over, and in the next over, struck back to back boundaries off Watson as they raced to 35 for none in the fourth over.
Gambhir never seemed in a hurry as he was happy giving strike to Bisla. With the Royals desperate for a breakthrough, there was some heated exchange in the middle when Watson and Bisla engaged in a war of words as both the skippers joined in the middle.
A brilliant stumping of Gambhir by Dishant Yagnik, who stood up to Watson, broke the opening partnership. Bisla too followed suit which brought Pathan to the middle.
Image: Umpires HDPK Dharmasena and CK Nandan talking to Gautam Gambhir, Manvinder Bisla and Rahul Dravid in an effort to ease tensions
Yusuf Pathan made an unbeaten 49
The struggling Yusuf Pathan reposed Gautam Gambhir's faith as he finally returned to form with an unbeaten 49 (35 balls; 3x4, 3x6), his highest for the Knight Riders.
Pathan shared an unbroken 78-run third-wicket partnership with Jacques Kallis, who struck an unbeaten 33, as the duo settled the issue with 16 balls to spare.
Kallis struck Brad Hogg over his head for a boundary to finish the chase as Pathan remained stranded one run shy of a half-century but his coming to form ensured Knight Riders their fourth win from 11 matches.
Image: Yusuf Pathan lines up his shot