- Kolkata Knight Riders beat Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets in Jaipur to go top of the points table
- This was Rajasthan's first defeat at home after nine successive victories
- Nitish Rana's all-round heroics highlighted a clinical KKR performance
Rajasthan Royals's fortress was finally breached on Wednesday as Kolkata Knight Riders moved to the top of the points table in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
KKR defeated Rajasthan by seven wickets to hand them their first defeat at home after nine consecutive victories. This was Kolkata's third victory in the ongoing season, which took them to the top of the table on the basis of the run rate ahead of Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The victory was scripted by Kolkata's spinners who spun a web around the Royals batsmen to restrict them to 160/8 in 20 overs.
IPL 2018, RR v KKR, Highlights: Kolkata beat Rajasthan for their second straight win
In reply, Kolkata got off to a shaky start as K Gowtham removed Chris Lynn for a duck in the first over. However, the job was soon made easy as Sunil Narine (35) and Robin Uthappa (48) stitched a 69-run partnership for the second wicket.
RR bowlers tried to pull the match back by dismissing both the set batsmen but sensible innings from Nitish Rana (35*) and Dinesh Karthik (42*) helped KKR cross the line with 7 balls to spare.
Earlier, the trio of Piyush Chawla (1/18), Kuldeep Yadav (1/23) and part-timer Nitish Rana (2/11) conceded 52 runs in 10 overs, sharing four wickets between them as Rajasthan failed to get going.
KKR's lead-spinner Sunil Narine had an off-day as the West Indian went wicketless and leaked 48 runs in four overs. Pacer Tom Curran (2/19) chipped in with a couple of wickets towards the end.
Royals, put in to bat, were not able to build on the start provided by captain Ajinkya Rahane (36 off 19) and D'Arcy Short (44 off 43) after the openers shared a 54-run stand off 41 balls.
The highlight of Rahane's knock was hitting Narine for four consecutive boundaries in his opening over.
His innings ended when KKR skipper and wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik effected a brilliant run-out after collecting the ball from in front of the stumps.
Rahane's opening partner Short ended up with his highest score in the tournament so far but it was not one of his fluent knocks. The Australian, used to playing on bouncy pitches back home, later said he is still getting used to the low bounce in his maiden IPL stint.
The in-form Sanju Samson (7) getting out cheaply also hurt the home team which could never get a move-on with wickets falling at regular intervals.
KKR began with the spin from both sides and Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav kept things tights, conceding nine runs in the first three overs.
Rahane welcomed Narine in the next over hitting him for four consecutive boundaries as the over went for 18 runs.
The following over from pacer Shivam Mavi too produced 13 runs, giving the innings a much-needed impetus.
However, Royals did not get a big enough partnership thereafter as KKR spinners continued to control the innings.
An 18-ball 24 from Jos Buttler in the death overs helped Royals get past the 150-run mark.