Kolkata Knight Riders spent a total of INR 8 crore on India's Under-19 World Cup-winning members - Shubman Gill, Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti - in the 2018 auction and the trio, playing only their second IPL encounter together, took apart Rajasthan Royals on Wednesday (September 30). The investment is finally starting to pay dividends as the troika starred in all three facets of the game and propelled Kolkata to a 37-run win in Match No. 12 of the 2020 edition of the lucrative league.
Asked to bat, Shubman Gill was once again amongst runs, scoring a 34-ball 47, studded with five fours and a six. Rajasthan however managed to pull things back in the middle overs before Eoin Morgan (23-ball 34*) chipped in with an important cameo to propel Kolkata to 174/6 in 20 overs. Having enjoyed batting in Sharjah, Rajasthan never looked in the game but Tom Curran (36-ball 54) managed to smash a half-century and got his team to a respectable total of 137/9 in reply.
Having crafted a match-winning 70* against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Gill looked in sublime touch from the word go and stamped his authority by clobbering Ankit Rajpoot down the ground for the first maximum of the match. The right-hander did most of the scoring in the first four overs, while Sunil Narine (14-ball 15) struggled to get bat on ball. The left-hander was 5 off 11 before he finally managed to break the shackles in the fifth over. Narine tonked Jaydev Unadkat for a six and a four but couldn't carry on as the left-arm seamer knocked him over with a superb slower delivery.
Gill once again batted with great maturity and found a good ally in Nitish Rana who tried to up the ante after Kolkata managed only 42 in the powerplay. Shreyas Gopal and Riyan Parag failed to maintain the pressure after the end of six overs and allowed Gill and Rana to accumulate boundaries, pushing the run-rate over 8. Rana was outstanding through the off-side and played quite a few eye-pleasing cut shots. The two added 46 for the second wicket before Rahul Tewatia had Rana caught at long-off for 17-ball 22.
Gill was scoring at a pretty good rate and he was doing it without taking unnecessary risks. The stylish opener was approaching towards his sixth IPL fifty when Smith brought Jofra Archer (2/18) back into the attack and the paceman from England did the job for his team by sending Gill back in the hut. Archer didn't stop there and also accounted for Kolkata captain Dinesh Karthik (1) in his next over.
Andre Russell was promoted to No. 4 and the dasher from Jamaica took a couple of deliveries to get his eye in and then smoked Gopal for two maximums to make his intentions clear. The Rajasthan bowlers came with the ploy of bowling wide outside off to Russell and the move paid off as Rajpoot had him caught at deep backward point for a 14-ball 24. With just five frontline batsmen in the XI, the onus of getting Kolkata to a competitive total fell on the shoulders of Eoin Morgan.
The ploy of playing seven proper bowlers, including Narine and Pat Cummins, didn't allow Morgan to play his natural game and the left-hander had to ensure he was there till the very end. There were occasional boundaries but it was in the final over where Morgan finally cut loose. The England white-ball captain accumulated 16 runs from his countrymate Curran's final over and got Kolkata past the 170-run mark.
In response, Rajasthan needed Steve Smith (3) and Jos Buttler (16-ball 21) to get them off to a solid start but the former was uncharacteristic with his approach and started slogging from ball one. Smith tried to take on Pat Cummins who looked in great rhythm and was bowling thunderbolts. The Rajasthan skipper looked in hurry for some reason and ended up throwing his wicket away in the second over. There was no Sanju Samson (8) special either as the No. 3 batter fell to Mavi (2/20) in the fifth over.
Rajasthan never looked in the game and kept losing wickets at regular intervals. After Mavi got the all-important wicket of Buttler, Nagarkoti (2/13) dismissed Robin Uthappa and Riyan Parag in his first over to kill the game. Playing only his second IPL encounter, it was a special moment for Nagarkoti who had to miss the last two seasons because of injury. Uthappa's wicket was his first in the IPL. Rajasthan were down and out before the end of 10 overs, and there was no miraculous effort from Tewatia (14) either.
Curran however ensured Rajasthan weren't bundled out and smashed two fours and three sixes in his knock to reduce the margin of defeat.