Quicks fire Rajasthan Royals to second win
Rajasthan Royals 144 for 6 (Hodge 46*, Narine 2-28) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 125 (Morgan 51, Trivedi 3-23, Cooper 3-15) by 19 runs
Scorecard by ball-by-ball details
A brace of double-wicket overs from fast bowlers, Rahul Shukla and Siddharth Trivedi, was the decisive blow that secured a second consecutive victory for Rajasthan Royals this season. They did not pick a spinner on a fast and bouncy pitch in their first home game at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium and the strategy worked; all five quicks took wickets and were able to prevent a dogged Eoin Morgan from single-handedly dragging Kolkata Knight Riders to the target.
Knight Riders had also read the pitch right, replacing the slower seamer L Balaji with Shami Ahmed, and Sunil Narine was their sole spinner. Narine, however, went for 18 in his third over - his most expensive in the IPL - as Royals managed to accumulate 144, because of a steady innings from Brad Hodge and a cameo from Dishant Yagnik. Their fast bowlers then vindicated their selections, dismissing Knight Riders in 19 overs.
Sreesanth opened the Royals' defence with a 14-run over but that did not set the tone. Shaun Tait hustled batsmen with speeds that touched 150 kph, and the less-heralded seamers did the damage. Shukla bustled in, bowling in the early 140 kph-range, and had immediate impact, demolishing Manvinder Bisla's stumps and drawing an edge from Jacques Kallis off successive deliveries in the third over.
In the seventh over Rahul Dravid brought on his fifth seamer, Trivedi, who trapped Manoj Tiwary lbw with his first ball, and then had Gautam Gambhir caught behind with his fifth. Knight Riders were floundering at 43 for 4. When Kevon Cooper drew another edge, this time from the potentially dangerous Yusuf Pathan, only Morgan remained in Royals' way.
Morgan was in the way for a while, transforming his innings that began scratchily into a threatening one with precise shots through the infield and over the boundary. His pick-up loft over long leg against Tait was the highlight and he kept the asking-rate under control. What he couldn't control, however, was the tendency of his partners to play rash shots - like Brett Lee did. At the start of the penultimate over, Knight Riders needed 23 off 12 but only had two wickets left. Morgan was bowled by Cooper first ball, and that was that.
The Royals innings had also suffered from the fall of regular wickets but they had Ajinkya Rahane anchoring the start and Brad Hodge staying until the finish to provide them with a competitive total. They recovered from the failure of Shane Watson, who was playing his first game of the season, and the fall of Dravid and Stuart Binny, who had played valuable innings in the victory against Delhi Daredevils.
Narine then derailed the innings in the 16th over, having Rahane caught behind and Cooper stumped. At 114 for 5 at the start of the 19th over, Royals needed something special and Hodge and Yagnik provided it. They attacked Narine for 18 runs, and then Hodge ensured 12 more came off the final over, as he finished on 46 to give his fast bowlers enough to defend.
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo