Kolkata Knight Riders made heavy work of a target of 132 in front of the Eden Gardens' faithful, beating Rajasthan Royals with four balls in hand for their second win of IPL 5. There was just one partnership to speak of during their chase on a slow surface but steady contributions from Jacques Kallis, Manvinder Bisla and Manoj Tiwary ended up helping Kolkata home in the final over. The five-wicket victory took them just ahead of Rajasthan in the points table, though Kolkata will need to more clinical with the bat as they seek to build on two consecutive wins.
Kolkata's bowlers had let their side down when these two teams met last week, but on Friday they laid the platform for victory by restricting Rajasthan to 131. Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane had laid a steady platform of 45 from the powerplay overs, only for both to fall to Shakib Al Hasan and throw Rajasthan off course.
Having opted to bat, Dravid soon realized this was a tricky surface. He hit a boundary in three of the first four overs but also played out nine dot balls in the same period. Two fours to Dravid off Kallis in the sixth over ensured Rajasthan reached a healthy position, but Shakib's first ball produced the breakthrough for Kolkata.
Rahane, going for an expansive drive outside off, got a faint edge through to Bisla. The encouraging turn on offer prompted Gautam Gambhir to bring on Yusuf Pathan from the other end, a move that produced quick success in the form of the run-out of Ashok Menaria. Dravid fell in Shakib's second over, driving an easy catch to short cover, and suddenly Rajasthan were 49 for 3.
Owais Shah and Sreevats Goswami struggled with the ball keeping low and skidding on, and were forced to play the spinners with caution. Shakib and Sunil Narine plugged away on the right areas to check the batsmen's strokes, while Laxmipathy Balaji gave just 13 off his first three overs. A six to Goswami off Rajat Bhatia suggested the wicketkeeper-batsman was coming to terms with the surface, but when Shakib returned for his final over Goswami swept across the line and popped a catch to short midwicket. Shah top-scored with 31 before being stumped off Narine in the 19th over, and a 15-run final over from Balaji meant Rajasthan had huffed and puffed to 131 for 5.
Gambhir's early exit - run out for 11 - was followed by a 48-run stand between Kallis and Bisla. Kallis sussed out the surface and hardly attempted expansive shots, preferring instead to play the ball into the open spaces and run swiftly between the wickets. Bisla began strongly by hitting three fours in his first 13 balls faced, but soon he was working the ball across the stumps instead of charging. Brad Hogg bowled a tight line and length and conceded few boundaries, and as a result Kolkata had scored only 68 for 1 after ten overs, but the equation – 64 runs off the final ten – was manageable.
However, Kallis undid his efforts by attempting one sweep to many, and was out lbw to Johan Botha in the 11th over. Bisla followed soon after, skipping out to Menaria and finding sweeper cover to leave Rajasthan to defend 36 runs in five overs. A six over his team's dug-out gave Kolkata some lift, but when Tiwary was stumped for 24 off Hogg, the home team's mood dipped.
Needing 15 from 12 balls, Shakib swung Amit Singh for six before spooning the next ball to point, but that was the last jolt for Kolkata. Yusuf dabbed a boundary off the final ball of Singh's over to level the scores and Ryan ten Doeschate swung his second ball for six to seal victory.