Kuldeep Yadav starred with an impressive four-wicket spell as he set up Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to a comfortable six-wicket win against Rajasthan Royals (RR) in their Indian Premier League match on Tuesday night. Kuldeep (4/20) flummoxed Rajasthan Royals batsmen with his wrist spin as the visitors were bowled out for 142 from 19 overs after being sent into bat. KKR chased down the modest target with two overs to spare with Chris Lynn top-scoring with a 42-ball 45 while skipper Dinesh Karthik remaining not out on 41 off 31 deliveries. Sunil Narine played a typical but brief explosive innings of 21 off just seven balls at the top of the innings to lay the foundation of the successful run chase.
Except for Narine, all the KKR batsmen chose to bat in business like fashion, shunning extravagance and looking for loose deliveries for boundaries.
With the win, KKR kept themselves in the hunt for a playoffs spot with 14 points from 13 matches as they remained at the third spot. Rajasthan Royals, meanwhile, stuck on 12 points from 13 matches and they will now find it difficult to make it to the play-offs though theoretically still in contention.
Opener Narine gave KKR a flying start taking K Gowhtam to cleaners with 21 runs from the first over with two fours and two sixes. Ben Stokes claimed two wickets -- that of Narine and Robin Uthappa (4) -- in successive overs en route to his superb 3/15 as KKR looked in a spot of bother with 69/3, requiring 74 from 70 balls.
But Lynn remained steady and cut down his strokes to anchor the innings. He and Karthik batted sensibly to put together 48 runs before the Australian became Stokes' third victim but by then the equation had come down to a simple 26 from 28 balls. Earlier, Kuldeep's magical four-wicket spell flummoxed Rajasthan Royals as KKR brilliantly turned it around with a superb bowling show to bundle out the visitors for 142.
Sent in, RR were looking ominous at 59 for no loss after four overs, already their highest inside the powerplay, before the home side triggered a batting collapse on the visitors in the middle overs by taking six wickets for 31 runs.
With none of their middle-order batsmen showing any fight, it would have been worse for RR but No. 8 Jaydev Unadkat struck 26 from 18 balls (3x4, 1x6) before Prasidh Krishna dismissed him to end the innings in the 19th over.
The India chinaman spinner had a nightmarish outing in their last game here, leaking 43 runs in three overs against Mumbai Indians but it was a different evening today as he turned it around with the season's best show of 4/20.
Shouldering extra responsibility in the absence of an injured Piyush Chawla (side strain), Yadav's magic arm completely exposed RR's frailty in tackling spin, as his four-for included the prized wicket of Jos Buttler (39 from 22 balls; 5x4, 2x6).
Coming in the eighth over, Kuldeep ran through his four overs and took a wicket in each of them to help KKR bounce back from a poor start.
Kuldeep started off by cleaning up RR skipper Ajinkya Rahane who continued his woeful form to get out for 11 and in the next over he denied Buttler a record sixth straight fifty.
Buttler too attempted a reverse sweep like Rahane but holed out at third man by Javon Searles.
It was Andre Russell (2/13 from three overs) who used his short-pitch ball strategy to full effect to dismiss Rahul Tripathi for 27 (15 balls; 4x4, 1x6). Thereafter, KKR seized the momentum riding on Yadav and Sunil Narine's tidy show (1/29).
Earlier, Mavi almost dismissed Tripathi first ball with an unplayable delivery in a superb first over that yielded just two runs.
But what unfolded from the second over was a series of boundaries and sixes from Buttler and Tripathi in a run sequence that read 6-4-4-4-4-6-4-4-6-4 as RR cruised to 50 in 20 balls. Promoted to open the innings, Tripathi turned it around against Prasidh Krishna after the probing Mavi over, smashing the seamer for a six, followed by a hat-trick of boundaries.
Mavi came to bowl in the third over, and it was time for the in-form Buttler to explode with a series of boundaries and sixes as the youngster bled 28 runs.