IPL 2018: KKR choke Royals, enter Qualifier-II with 25-run win

Kolkata: Skipper Ajinkya Rahane’s slow batting cost Rajasthan Royals dearly as two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders comfortably beat them by 25 runs in the Eliminator to set-up the IPL Qualifier-II clash with Sunrisers Hyderabad, here on Wednesday. On a day KKR star spinner Sunil Narine was expensive and returned wicket-less, the likes of Piyush Chawla, Prasidh Krishna and Kuldeep Yadav stepped up to restrict Rajasthan 144 for four after batsmen put on board 169 for seven. Home skipper Dinesh Karthik and Andre Russell had revived KKR with their magnificent batting as the hosts recovered from a disastrous start. They had their worst start of the season with K Gowtham (2/15) and Jofra Archer (2/33) reducing them to 46 for three inside the Powerplay overs.

Karthik continued his sublime form to lead them to safety with a 38-ball 52, containing four fours and two sixes while Russell came up with his destructive 29-ball unbeaten 49, studded with three boundaries and five sixes to propel the side to a fighting total. Kolkata will face Hyderabad in the virtual semifinal round here on May 25. Earlier, the sixes were a rarity in the first half of Kolkata innings and it was only in the 14th over Shubman Gill hit the first shot over the ropes in his crucial fifth wicket partnership with Karthik.

Brief scores: KKR 169 for 7 in 20 overs (Karthik 52, Russell 49; K Gowtham 2/15, Archer 2/33) beat RR 144 for 4 in 20 overs (Samson 50, Rahane 46; Chawla 2/24, Kuldeep 1/18) by 25 runs.