Kolkata Knight Riders openers Sunil Narine and Shubman Gill were off to a slow start after Steve Smith won the toss and inserted Kolkata in to bat. Jofra Archer and Ankit Rajpoot shared the new ball for Royals, with the latter cranking up the pace in the Powerplay. Archer had Narine hopping about at the crease, and the Caribbean got a reprieve in the third over when Robin Uthappa dropped a simple chance at mid-on off Jaydev Unadkat’s bowling.
At the other end, Gill gave a glimpse pf his power-hitting when he lofted a full delivery from Rajpoot over long-on for six. He then slammed a short delivery for four off the third ball of Rajpoot’s second over. Meanwhile, Narine collected a six and a four off Unadkat in the fifth over before the Saurashtra pacer knocked the middle and leg stump with a slower delivery.
Nitish Rana joined forces with Gill after Narine’s dismissal with Smith keeping the batsmen guessing by using as many as four bowlers inside the first six overs. KKR accumulated 42 in the Powerplay. Shreyas Gopal, leg-break bowler, came into the attack in the seventh over and Gill despatched a half-tracker from the Karnataka leggie, over deep-midwicket for four. Rana then welcomed young Riyan Parag into the attack with a maximum over long-off.
Rana and Gill kept the scorecard ticking with singles and twos, sandwiched between fours through heaves off over-pitched deliveries over mid-wicket and straight-drives. But just when Rana tried to up the scoring rate, he holed out off the last ball of Rahul Tewatia’s first over. He fell for 22 with KKR on 82 for 2 at the halfway stage. Shortly after, when Gill perished for 47 off 34 – caught and bowled by Archer – Kolkata was in a spot of bother. Archer’s second over went for just one run.
However, the joy was shortlived for Royals. Russell got stuck into Gopal in the 13th over, clubbing two sixes – one over cow corner and another over deep mid-wicket to take Kolkata past the 100-run mark. Archer, though, was in the middle of a probing spell and the Englishman added another victim to his tally, when he had KKR skipper Karthik caught behind with one that straightened just a little after pitching. Russell’s dismissal off Rajpoot in the next over put Rajasthan in the box seat.