Narine, Russell cameos strengthen KKR play-offs bid


Both Sunil Narine and Andre Russell played minor but important roles as Kolkata Knight Riders beat Jofra Archer’s Rajasthan Royals by six wickets here yesterday, and inch closer to securing a place in the Indian Premier League play-offs.

Choosing to bowl first at Eden Gardens, the hosts restricted Royals to a mediocre 142 all out off 19 overs, with Jos Buttler top-scoring with 39, opening partner Rahul Tripathi chipping in with 27, and Jaydev Unadkat, 26.

Buttler, who faced 22 deliveries and struck five fours and two sixes, put on 63 for the first wicket with Tripathi before the innings went into decline.

Pacer Russell was excellent in a three-over spell, claiming two for 13 including the wicket of Archer, who was deceived by a slower ball in the 18th over and taken by Shubman Gill coming in from long leg.

Narine finished with one for 29 from his four overs.

When KKR chased, Narine gave them a rousing start, belting a pair of fours and sixes in a seven-ball 21, while Australian opening partner Chris Lynn top-scored with 45 and captain Dinesh Karthik, an unbeaten 41.

Left-hander Narine smashed the first ball of the innings from off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham over the midwicket ropes, and pulled the second over square leg for four before clearing long-on for his second six.

He belted the fourth delivery over cover for yet another boundary and was looking ominous when he perished to the second ball of the next over from England seamer Ben Stokes, miscuing a pull to cover.

However, Lynn faced 42 deliveries and counted five fours and one six as he added 48 for the fourth wicket with Karthik to pull the innings around for 69 for three.

When Lynn fell in the 16th over, Russell arrived at the crease with 27 runs required from 28 balls and punched two fours in 11 not out, to get KKR over the line with two overs left.

The victory left KKR third on 14 points while Royals remained on 12 points and in fourth.

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