Leg-spinner Varun Chakravarthy’s five-wicket haul and superb half-centuries from Nitish Rana and off-spinner Sunil Narine combined to guide Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to a crucial 59-run win over Delhi Capitals (DC) that kept the team in contention for the Indian Premier League (IPL) playoffs.
The win took KKR to 12 points from 11 matches, though they remain at the fourth place in the eight-team competition. And despite the defeat, DC remain static at the second spot, behind Mumbai Indians. Both DC and MI, as well as Royal Challengers Bangalore have 14 points each.
Four top teams qualify for the playoffs. Overall, the race for the fourth qualifying spot, if not for other potions above it, is still wide open, with even the wooden spooners Chennai Super Kings still in the fray, though mathematically and not on form.
KKR, who were asked to bat by DC captain Shreyas Iyer, recovered from early jolts to put a respectable 194/6 wickets on board, thanks to Rana’s scintillating knock (81, 53 balls, 13x4s, 1×6). Later, Chakravarthy (4-0-20-5) ripped apart the KKR batting line-up as the spinner claimed the first five-wicket haul of the current tournament to restrict DC to 135 for nine wickets in 20 overs.
Chasing the target, Delhi never looked in control, barring a 63-run partnership between Iyer (47) and Rishabh Pant (27).
DC lost openers Ajinkya Rahane, who failed to open his account, and in-form Shikhar Dhawan (6) with just 13 runs on board before Iyer and Pant stabilised the innings. Both DC openers were claimed by Pat Cummins (3/17), who looked quite impressive after some lacklustre performance in the recent past.
Chakravarthy, however, didn’t let the partnership develop as he cut short Pant’s stay in the 12th over, leaving DC at 76/3.
It was an absolute carnage by the KKR’s Chakravarthy as he went on to pick the wickets of Shimron Hetmyer (10), Iyer, Marcus Stoinis (6) and Axar Patel (9) in quick succession to leave DC at 112/7 wickets in 15.5 overs.
Kagiso Rabada chipped in with nine runs before becoming a victim of Cummins while Ravichandran Ashwin remained unbeaten on 14 as DC failed to cross the line by huge margin.
It was DC’s fourth defeat of the season.
Earlier, Rana (81) and Sunil Narine (64)rescued KKR from early blows, helping their side post a challenging 194/6 in the allotted 20 overs.
Anrich Nortje (2/27) struck twice to pack up Shubman Gill (9) and Rahul Tripathi (13) while Kagiso Rabada (2/33) dismissed Dinesh Karthik (3) to leave KKR tottering at 42/3 in 7.2 overs.
However, Rana and Narine anchored the innings with a crucial 115-run partnership and in the process also notched up their respective half-centuries.
Rabada struck again in the 17th over to send back Narine, whose innings contained six boundaries and four sixes. His fall saw KKR skipper Eoin Morgan (17) joining Rana in the middle and the duo were involved in a brief 37-run stand.
While trying to improve the run-rate, Rana and Morgan fell on the final two balls of the final over of the innings. However, it hardly affected KKR, which had already managed to put a decent total on board.
Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders: 194/6 wkts in 20 overs (Nitish Rana 81, Sunil Narine 64; Anrich Nortje 2/27) beat Delhi Capitals: 135/9 wkts in 20 overs (Shreyas Iyer 47, Rishabh Pant 27; Varun Chakravarthy 5/20) by 59 runs