After winning the first of our three back-to-back home games, we couldn’t bag victory in the second one, as Kolkata Knight Riders chased our target of 140 with relative ease. Our batsmen managed to put up 139 on the backing of an unbeaten 73 off 59 balls by Steven Smith. The KKR openers went berserk right from the start and the middle order got the job done with many overs to spare. For the first time in this season, Ajinkya Rahane lost the toss. Rajasthan Royals were put in to bat by Dinesh Karthik. The pitch showed signs of being sluggish right from the start. Rahane scored a boundary off Chawla with a lovely slog sweep over mid-wicket. However, our captain’s stay at the crease was short-lived when he was caught in front of a Prasidh Krishna delivery. Buttler and Smith got together, as KKR deployed spin at one end and pace at the other. The going got tough, as neither of them could break free easily. The Englishmen managed to collect a few boundaries off Prasidh Krishan’s second over. The last two overs of the Powerplay were very quiet for us. We ended up on 28/1 by the closure of the Powerplay. The duo ensured that we didn’t lose any further wickets. At the end of 10 overs, the Royals managed to accumulate 56 runs. It was time for us to push the pedal and get the run-rate over run-a-ball. After trying lots of conventional shots, Buttler resorted to a string of reverse sweeps, one of which fetched him a boundary against Kuldeep’s left arm chinaman bowling. Buttler decided to take on fellow-Englishman, Harry Gurney in the 12th over of the innings. He carted Gurney for a massive six over deep square leg. He went for one too many, as he looked to hoist the bowler out of the park, but only managed to miscue the ball high in the air, down Gill’s throat at deep mid-wicket. From here on, it was up to Smith to take the team to a respectable total. He took on Krishna in the 15th over, guiding one down to third man and swatting one to the fine leg fence, taking the team’s total beyond 100. Gurney got the better of Rahul Tripathi with a slower one. Stokes was the new man in at the crease, and he couldn’t get going on the tough surface. Smith nailed one right out of the middle of the bat, and launched the ball deep over mid-wicket. The 19th over proved to be quite dramatic. Krishna bowled a wide and two no-balls in an over where Stokes was at the receiving end of some dangerous bowling. We eventually ended up on 139/3 off 20 overs. The second innings didn’t begin on a good note for Rajasthan Royals. Narine and Lynn went after our bowlers. The second over, bowled by Krishnappa Gowtham, went for 22 runs with Narine collecting four 4s and one 6. Dhawal Kulkarni could have got rid of both openers had it not been for a couple of unfortunate circumstances. Narine swung hard off the first ball of his over and skied the ball high up over point. Tripathi and Gowtham converged towards the dropping ball, but Tripathi called for it. He seemed shaky as the ball dropped and it slid out of his hands. The very next ball kissed the stumps after Lynn missed an in-swinger. However, one of the bails got lifted but went back into the groove. Lynn started to walk, until everyone realized that the bails were intact. While Lynn hit the odd boundary in between, Narine went after our bowlers quite regularly. Shreyas Gopal brought some calm in the chase when he conceded just 3 runs off his first over, the seventh of the innings. Debutant Sudeshan Midhum started his over well, but was punished by Narine for two sixes in the latter half of his over. The Royals got their first breakthrough in the 9th over, when a Gopal slider took the edge of Narine’s bat and went flying towards Smith. The man who top-scored in the first innings took a smart catch at slip. Lynn carried on from where Narine left off. Gopal though, didn’t let Lynn hang around for longer, as he got the Aussie sweeping, straight to Midhun at deep square leg. Shubman Gill joined Robin Uthappa, and the former ensured that the chase didn’t go downhill after both the openers departed. Uthappa hit a couple of biggies to take KKR closer to the target, and kept a cool head right through his stay in the middle. Our performance wasn’t the best, especially after our first victory on 2nd April. We will have to get back to the drawing board to chalk out what went wrong with our batting as well as our bowling. We have another home game on 11th April, against Chennai Super Kings. Rajasthan Royals will look to get back up and put in a solid performance before we go on the road once again
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