IPL 2018, KKR vs RR: Kuldeep Yadav's introduction is SK Turning Point of the match
End of the road for the Rajasthan Royals?
The over-reliance on Jos Buttler from the Rajasthan Royals was exposed brutally against the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens on Monday (May 15), as the Ajinkya Rahane-led side went from 63-0 in less than five overs to 142 all out in 19 overs in the first innings of the game. The visitors went on to lose the match by a comprehensive margin of six wickets, as Dinesh Karthik and his team furthered their chances of making it to the playoffs this season.
The toss played a crucial role on the day, as the Kolkata franchise won it and decided to chase. Before going into this game, they had won 23 and lost just six games at home when they batted second. The first over bowled by Shivam Mavi was exceptional, to say the least, as both Rahul Tripathi and Buttler exercised caution against the teenage sensation.
However, the right-handed batsmen let loose in the next couple of overs, and suddenly, the Royals had raced to 49 runs after the first three overs. They kept going hard at the hosts, looking set for an imperative total on the day. Andre Russell was the first KKR bowler to get a breakthrough on the day, as he sent Tripathi back to the pavilion in the fifth over of the game.
It hardly mattered in the context of the Royals batting though, as they had set a tremendous foundation for themselves and with in-form Buttler still at the crease, it looked likely to cross the 180-run mark at the very least.
Ultimately, it was the introduction of a Chinaman bowler that proved to be the SK Turning Point of the match. Kuldeep Yadav was brought on by Karthik an over after the powerplay, and the legspinner struck gold off just his second delivery of the match, dismissing the Rajasthan skipper for a low-score of 11.
Yadav's biggest contribution to the innings came in his next over though, as he kept bowling around the stumps to Buttler and ultimately, coaxed the English batsman into mistiming the ball early in the 10th over of the game. The right-hander's record of five consecutive fifties in the tournament was truncated there and then, as he had to return to the pavilion for a well-made 39 on the day.
The wicket-keeper batsman had been the vital cog for RR in their three consecutive victories last week and his relatively early dismissal in Kolkata disrupted the flow of the innings, thereby putting pressure on the lower middle order of the team. The batsmen that followed thereafter could never recover from the blow and fell like ninepins, thereby throwing away the blistering start the team had gotten off to in the first chunk of the powerplay overs.
While the Knight Riders now have a real chance of making it to the top four at the end of the league stage, the Royals now seem to be almost out of contention for the same. They still have a mathematical chance of making it to the playoffs, but their negative NRR poses a serious problem for the Men in Blue, going into their last league game of the season, which will be against RCB later this week.