Dinesh Karthik's unbeaten 97 went in vain as teenager Riyan Parag and Jofra Archer's cameo saw Rajasthan Royals pull off a sensational three-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Monday. The loss comes as KKR's sixth consecutive defeat which makes matter more tense in the Kolkata camp.
Bowling all-rounder Archer played his final game for Rajasthan but did sign off in style as he smashed the winning runs for the visitors. He smashed 27 runs in 12 balls faced. Youngster Riyan Parag held on and played a brilliant knock before departing for 47,which saw Archer finish the job in fashionable style, leaving the hosts bamboozled.
The Powerplay belonged to Rajasthan despite losing Rahane just before its end, but post that, the tide completely swung in Kolkata's favour. KKR's spinners, Chawla and Narine, ran through the top order and allowed others to chip in and eat into the tail. All seemed lost but young Parag had other ideas in mind.
Karthik's Kolkata had reduced Rajasthan to 98/5 in the 11th over, with all of their experienced batsmen back in the dugout, but couldn't fend off the runs which came pouring in from the middle and lower order,Karthik silenced his critics with a career-best 97 not out as KKR recovered from an atrocious start to post a competitive 175 for six.
Under pressure to perform after a string of five straight defeats, the World Cup-bound Karthik promoted himself to No. 4, shrugging off criticism, and smashed nine sixes and seven fours in his 50-ball unbeaten knock, as KKR hit top gear in the back end of the innings, scoring 126 from the last 10 overs and 75 off the last five overs.
On a day their impact player Andre Russell looked lacklustre in his run-a-ball 14, in which he was dropped twice, it was a one-man show from Karthik who went berserk against the likes of Jaydev Unadkat and Shreyas Gopal. Karthik seized the momentum in the 11th over when he hit Shreyas Gopal for a six followed by three boundaries in an over that yielded 25 runs and KKR did not look back since then.
Karthik completed his fifty from 35 balls and smashed Jofra Archer for successive sixes in the penultimate over before bettering his previous best of 86 when he went berserk against Unadkat by hitting him for two sixes and one four in the final over.Unadkat conceded 50 runs for his one wicket and was the most expensive of the lot as he undid all the good work done by Varun Aaron (2/20) who had a fine new ball spell of 3-1-10-2.