In 20-20 cricket, the value of keeping wickets in hand is often underestimated. However, it is equally important to ensure that you don’t leave too much to be done at the fag end of the innings. Finding the proper balance is most important.
While the Kolkata Knight Riders managed to succeed in the first aspect, they failed miserably in the second and, as a result, handed the under pressure Rajasthan Royals their first win in the tournament at the Motera stadium in Ahmedabad. Chasing Rajasthan’s challenging 168 for 7 on one of the slowest pitches in the tournament, the Knight Riders could muster only 134 for the loss of five wickets.
The Royals, for the first time in this IPL, looked at ease as the pitch offered enough for their spinners. Skipper Shane Warne was smart enough to sense the occasion and open the bowling with Yusuf Pathan. And the all-rounder, who failed with the bat, responded immediately.
He sent back opener Manoj Tiwary with a quickish one, which Tiwary failed to read and was clean bowled. Brad Hodge and Cheteshwar Pujara then strung together a useful partnership. However, the Royals ensured that they remained in the hunt by not allowing either of the batsmen to run away with the game. Warne also played his part by keeping the runs down from his end though he could not pick up any wickets. And the tactics paid rich dividends.
As the pressure and required run-rate mounted, Pujara was taken out for 29 by pacer Siddharth Trivedi and the aggressive Pathan returned to knock out Hodge, bowling him through the gate as the batsman tried to break free from the shackles imposed. Hodge contributed 36 from 34, but in the context of the game, it was a poor effort.
He fell at the start of the 15th over, by which time the Knight Riders had scored only 95 and had a tall mountain to climb despite having wickets in hand.
Also, it did not help that the ball wasn’t coming on to the bat towards the later part of the match. Sourav Ganguly struggled like to time the ball at all as Munaf Patel and Shaun Tait finished off things very well for the Royals, bowling some accurate Yorker length deliveries.
Ganguly’s ordeal ended in the final over when he was dismissed for 33 by Patel. But, the match was over long before. Owais Shah hit a couple of mighty sixes, but in between those two strokes, he also found the going tough. The Royals took a cue from the battering they received against Bangalore and bowled some good short deliveries as well.
With the bat too they put in an improved performance. Abhishek Jhunjhunwala led the way with a composed 45, but Adam Voges quickfire, unbeaten 37 from 22 balls, 17 of which came in the last over from Ishant Sharma was equally crucial. In between too, the Royals batted sensibly.
After losing Michael Lumb early, Naman Ojha and Faiz Fazal too turns to go after the attack. Thus, the runs kept coming despite the loss of wickets. This approach saw them garner a fighting total pf 168, which was enough to earn them their first points as Kolkata mistimed their chase.
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