Kuldeep Yadav picked up four wickets that demolished the Rajasthan batting lineup. © BCCI

Kuldeep Yadav picked up four wickets that demolished the Rajasthan batting lineup. © BCCI

Kuldeep Yadav was the star of the night as Kolkata Knight Riders cantered to a six-wicket win against Rajasthan Royals at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Tuesday (May 15). With this win, Kolkata are well and truly alive, having collected 14 points from 13 games, while Rajasthan’s playoff hopes have become a lot more uncertain as they remain on 12 points from 13 games.

Kuldeep bowled with guile and skill to prise out four wickets, including that of the rampaging Jos Buttler to restrict the visitors to just 142 all out in 19 overs. Kolkata chased down the total with two overs to spare.

Rajasthan made the mistake of starting with spin with Narine on strike. K Gowtham was taken for 21 runs by Narine in an onslaught that was built around two massive sixes over the on-side, and a couple of fours.

Narine looked to continue in the same vein against Ben Stokes but skied a catch to Gowtham at mid-off in the second ball of the very next over, but one would argue that he had done his job. Stokes struck again in his next over, when Uthappa played a mistimed hook to deep square leg.

Chris Lynn batted lot more cautiously than his usual style and stitched up a 33-run stand with Nitish Rana. Ish Sodhi created uncertainty in the batsman’s minds with flight and sharp turn and reaped rewards when he had Rana trapped in front for a 17-ball 21.

Lynn continued to bat sensibly and with Dinesh Karthik at the other end, the duo kept ticking away towards the total at a steady rate. As the target drew closer, Kolkata looked to up the ante in a bid to better their net run rate, which might come into play to determine the qualifiers.

But that approach cost them Lynn’s wicket when he tried to pummel a Stokes short ball over deep point but missed his timing to fall for a 42-ball 45.

Karthik and Andre Russell (11 n.o. off 5) batted aggressively to see off the chase with plenty to spare. Karthik’s finishing six took him to an unbeaten 31-ball 41.

Stokes, who hasn’t been in his best this season, finished with 3 for 15 in his four overs, including a maiden, but his efforts fell short of defending a low total.

Earlier, Jos Buttler threatened to bat Kolkata Knight Riders out of the game, but once he was dismissed by Kuldeep, things came crashing down for Rajasthan in no time.

Put in to bat first, Buttler and Rahul Tripathi took their side off to a blistering start, smashing 63 runs in just 4.5 overs before Tripathi was dismissed for a 15-ball 27.

Their assault included a 10-ball boundary streak – an IPL record. The last four balls of Prasidh Krishna’s first over were smashed for a six and three fours by Tripathi, and Buttler cashed in on the momentum to hit Mavi for 28 in his second over with four fours and a couple of sixes.

Russell provided the first breakthrough when Tripathi feathered a nick to the wicketkeeper, trying to hook a well-directed short ball.

Kuldeep castled Ajinkya Rahane for a 12-ball 11 when the out-of-form captain tried to play a reverse sweep off him. It was the reverse sweep that did Buttler in as well for a 22-ball 39 when he top edged one to short third man.

Narine joined the party, having Sanju Samson trapped in front for 12, when Karthik went for a brilliant review to have the on-field decision overturned.

The procession of wickets continued with Kuldeep foxing Stuart Binny (1) who was stumped and the left-arm wrist-spinner continued to wreck carnage when Ben Stokes (11 off 13) chipped one back to him as Rajasthan slipped to 107 for 7.

Mavi did a lot better in his comeback over, conceding just three runs and bouncing out the dangerous Gowtham (3 off 5).

After the middle-order meltdown, the returns could have been a lot more modest for Rajasthan but Jaydev Unadkat scored three boundaries and a six in his 18-ball 26 to lend respectability to his side’s effort. Prasidh, who had been expensive earlier on, helped clean up the tail, finishing with 2 for 35. Russell impressed with 2 for 13 in his three overs, but Kuldeep’s 4 for 20 easily outshadowed their figures.