Recent Match Report – KKR vs Royals 18th Match 2021
The Kolkata Knight Riders shackle themselves to the bottom of the points table
Rajasthan Royals 134 for 4 (Samson 42*, Chakravarthy 2-32) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 133 for 9 (Tripathi 36, Morris 4-23) by six wickets
A good T20 total is built on the back of batters being brave. The Kolkata Knight Riders forgot all about that on Saturday, losing to the Rajasthan Royals by six wickets and tumbling to the bottom of the IPL points table.
A haunted team
The Knight Riders lost their last game in heroic fashion. It left Andre Russell “heartbroken” but the worst of the impact may have been on Eoin Morgan who, even as early as the presentation that night, was wondering what might have been.
So maybe he and his team devised a plan. Let’s not try anything in the powerplay. Let’s not give our opponents an easy wicket. If we can do that, then with the hitters down the order, we could really do some damage. #BestLaidPlans.
Nitish Rana once scored an IPL fifty without the help of a single four. He didn’t need them. He just kept clearing the boundary. Here, he looked shackled. Here, he was caught behind for 22 off 25 with one measly four and one measly six.
Shubman Gill lorded it over the Australian Test attack – which some say is the best in the world – but against one that had gone the last T20 without picking up a single wicket, he just caved without a fight.
Morgan was run-out without facing a ball.
The debacle against the Chennai Super Kings happened three nights ago. But it was still affecting the Knight Riders, the shackles they placed upon themselves eventually becoming too difficult to break.
The bitter end
Twenty-five for one in the powerplay. Sixty-one for four just past the halfway mark. When a batting team falls so far behind the rate, they start to hit out at everything. The Royals understood that and put all of their effort into taking the pace off, while also digging it into the pitch. Mustafizur Rahman (1 for 22), Chetan Sakariya (1 for 31) and Jaydev Unadkat (1 for 25) were especially useful in this regard, posing problems even for a hitter like Andre Russell because they took away his base and therefore his power.
Ironically, it was two seam-up deliveries that took down the Knight Riders’ two finishers, Chris Morris dismissing Russell and Dinesh Karthik in the 18th over and setting his team up with a below-par target of 134 to chase.
Samson steps up
Knowing it was only a matter of lasting the full 20 overs, the Royals captain Samson (42* off 41) took the responsibility upon himself and made sure he was out there when the winning runs were scored. The innings began with a flowing cover drive against Varun Chakravarthy’s mystery spin and included a vicious six off Pat Cummins’ pace, but for the most part, Samson was focused on just being at the crease, ticking the singles over so that he could, with as little risk as possible, push his often fragile team across that finish line.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo