Brief score: Rajasthan Royals: 151/1 in 13.1 overs beat Kolkata Knight Riders 149/8 in 20 overs by nine wickets.

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Rajasthan Royals returned to their winning ways with a nine-wicket demolition of Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL on Thursday. At Eden Gardens, the Men In Pink were lethal in every department of the game and outplayed their opponents by some margin to renew their chase for a place in the playoffs. 

Opting to bowl, the Royals were on the money with the team raising its game a notch higher. New-ball bowlers Trent Boult and Sandeep Sharma stuck to their plan while the fielders ensured nothing came easy for KKR. While Shimron Hetmyer pulled off a blinder to send Jason Roy back in the third over, the likes of Dhruv Jurel, Joe Root and Jos Buttler, among others, were laser sharp with their efforts. Yuzvendra Chahal (4-25) was the pick of the bowlers as the Indian international became the highest wicket-taker in IPL.

At a venue where teams have scored in excess of 180 so far this season, KKR managed 149/8 in their 20 overs, a total that the Royals chased down in a jiffy. Though Buttler had to return following a mix-up with Yashasvi Jaiswal, the youngster made up for the loss and smashed the fastest fifty in the IPL en route to his 98*. Skipper Sanju Samson, meanwhile, helped the anchor role with an unbeaten 48. 

Yuzi spins a web

An accomplished chess player, a great spinner and a bonafide superstar; Yuzi is everything he wants to be. And at Eden Gardens, he summoned all his talent and showcased his class to become the highest wicket-taker in IPL. Coming into the attack midway through the inning, Yuzi was at his finest as he teased the KKR batters and drew them into some rash shot-making.

Nitish Rana was the first to fall. Facing him for the first time on the night, Yuzi tossed one up around off. The Kolkata skipper was drawn into a slog sweep, only to find Hetmyer who sprinted in from deep backward square to complete a spectacular catch and hand Yuzi his record-breaking wicket in IPL.

Venkatesh Iyer followed next when he top-edged a full delivery outside off to Boult. While Shardul Thakur was trapped leg before, Rinku Singh – hoping for a flourish at the end – found Root at long off in his attempt to clear the fence.

Fielders bring their ‘A’ game

The bowling effort was complemented by our fielders who put on a purposeful show against KKR. It started with Hetmyer pulling off a stunner to dismiss Roy in the Powerplay. Getting on to a slower one from Boult, the KKR opener lofted one deep square. But what looked like a maximum was pulled out of nowhere by our Caribbean hitman who ran the length, timed his jump well and then ensured that he didn’t crossover to complete a top-quality catch. 

Later, Sandeep held on to a fine catch to send Rahmanullah Gurbaz packing in the fifth over as the Royals’ commitment in the field made it difficult for KKR to eke out runs, forcing them to go for high-risk shots. 

Yashasvi Jaiswal powers through the chase

With just 150 to chase, the Royals had to wrap up the chase quickly to build on their run rate. And our man-in-form, Yashasvi, did just that when he made his intentions clear and went after Nitish Rana in the opening over. The Royals’ opener scored 20 runs off the first four balls and then six off the next two to bring up the most runs (26) by a batter in the first over of either inning in the IPL. This was also the joint second-highest a team had scored in the opening over.

That laid the foundation for what was to follow. Though Buttler had to depart following a run-out, along with captain Sanju, Yash never looked back and entertained the Kolkata crowd with some top-draw shots. The Royals will hope to continue this run when they host the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday.

Milestone alert

  • Sanju Samson completed 150 matches in IPL.
  • Yuzvendra Chahal became the highest wicket-taker in IPL.
  • Yashasvi Jaiswal scored the fastest fifty in IPL history.
  • Yashasvi Jaiswal scored 26 runs in the first over, the most by a batter in the opening over of an inning in IPL.