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IPL-2024: Rajasthan Royals beat Kolkata Knight Riders by 2 wickets: Credit goes to Buttler (107*)

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In IPL cricket, Rajasthan Royals won by two wickets against Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens in Kolkata last night.

Jos Buttler smashed a century – his second of the season – and nullified Sunil Narine’s first triple-figure score in the tournament to pave the way for the joint-highest run-chase in IPL history. Narine’s reprise of the opening role for KKR hit a new peak as the West Indian scored 109 off 56. KKR, backed up by their 200-plus total, looked set to usurp RR to the summit of the points table but were undone by a brilliant Buttler, and a six-over mania at the end in which RR got 96 runs.

The game reached a juncture where KKR had the upper hand. Buttler was still in the middle but wasn’t quite at his best, while RR were down to 128 for 6, needing 96 off 36 balls. This was the epicentre of RR’s turnaround. Varun CV, who’d bowled three good overs, was hit for four fours by Buttler to signify that this game was far from over. Rovman Powell joined in to reiterate that as he hit Andre Russell for a six in the 16th over, which also went for 17 runs, and then went 4 6 6 against Narine to put the pressure back on KKR. Narine hit back by trapping the West Indian leg before, leaving Buttler to find his way around with RR’s long tail.

Mitchell Starc was back with RR needing 46 off 18 and was thoroughly smashed around by Buttler. The over began with a six, had the run out of Trent Boult in it but ended with RR wiping out 18 more from the target. Harshit Rana, who has been one of KKR’s better death bowlers this season, missed his mark repeatedly against Buttler and was duly punished. Buttler hit two sixes and a four in the 19th over to drag the equation down to just 9 off 6. That became 3 off 5 when Buttler hit a six over long-on off Varun. The spinner tied the limping Buttler to his crease on the next 3 balls but the fifth was a full toss that fetched 2 runs. On the last ball, Buttler pulled away to complete a sensational victory.

Phil Salt was offered a reprieve first over – a dropped catch by Riyan Parag at point – and then sent packing by a blinder of a return catch from Avesh Khan but KKR once again had a fantastic start to their batting innings. KKR were at 26/1 in 4 overs but then flew off the blocks. Narine and the impressive Angkrish Raghuvanshi went hard, even against RR’s fantastic powerplay bowler Trent Boult to guide the side to 56/1 in 6 overs. Boult, who operated at an economy rate of 6.06 in the PowerPlay until this game, was hit for 24 runs in three overs. Narine went after Kuldeep Sen in the sixth over to get warmed up for the exceptional innings that was to follow.

KKR’s risk-taking opener maximised facing a bowler who he matches up well against in the middle-overs – R Ashwin. Heading into this game, Narine had hit 60 off 22 from Ashwin in the IPL. Tonight, he scored 34 off 17 – with four fours and two sixes. Ashwin set a packed off-side field with a long off, deep point and deep extra cover but the left-hander repeatedly pierced it. Ashwin even got a couple of dots by flirting with the wide line outside the off-stump. Even with those, he got the runs to dent RR in the middle.

Yuzvendra Chahal dismissed Shreyas Iyer to move to 199 IPL wickets, but finished with his worst IPL figures – of 1 for 54, after being taken apart by Narine – particularly in his last over where he conceded 23 runs. Ashwin’s returns of 0 for 49 were his second-worst – also stretching his wicketless streak to five games this season. In the eight overs between them, they conceded 103 runs at an economy rate of 12.87.

After Narine brought up his century in the 16th over, the stage was set for Andre Russell to punish RR further. Avesh came back to deny the big West Indian a late flourish, getting him caught at extra cover by Dhruv Jurel for a 10-ball 13. Only seven runs came off that over, and the next from Boult, which also included the wicket of Narine. Rinku Singh and Venkatesh Iyer however, hit 25 off the last two overs to take KKR to 223/6.

Jos Buttler and Riyan Parag got the start the visitors needed in a chase as daunting as this one, as they amassed their best PowerPlay score of the season – 76/1. Yashasvi Jaiswal had another underwhelming outing and Sanju Samson fell after a couple of promising, but Parag continued to bring his audacious batting to the middle in the company of Buttler. Parag outpaced Buttler as he took down Harshit Rana, and Vaibhav Arora in a 23-run over in the sixth. Parag was particularly brutal against Rana but fell to the bowler’s slower one, with Andre Russell taking a good catch in the deep.

RR lost three wickets but still had 98 runs on the board in 8 overs, staying on course in the big chase. Sunil Narine then changed that by trapping Dhruv Jurel leg before in the ninth over. R Ashwin was once again promoted up the order, but he struggled to provide a push in the scoring while Buttler too went through a phase where he struggled to middle the ball. KKR spinners used the sticky pitch to make shot-making difficult as RR limped to 121/4 in 12 overs, needing 103 off the last 8 overs. Varun Chakravarthy, who was in the middle of a stirring spell, dismissed Ashwin and Shimron Hetmyer off successive deliveries to put KKR on course to finish the night on top of the points table. Buttler, however, had other ideas.

Brief Scores:Kolkata Knight Riders223/6 in 20 overs (Sunil Narine 109, Angkrish Raghuvanshi 30; Avesh Khan 2-35) lost to Rajasthan Royals 224/8 in 20 overs (Jos Buttler 107*, Riyan Parag 34; Sunil Narine 2-30) by 2 wickets

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