IPL Playoffs: Russell, Karthik help KKR to 169/7 after early collapse

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Kolkata, May 23 (IANS) Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) rode skipper Dinesh Karthik’s well-paced fifty coupled with Andre Russell’s unbeaten 25-ball 49 blitz to recover from an early collapse and post 169/7 in 20 overs against Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) eliminator at the Eden Gardens here on Wednesday.

Russell came in to bat when KKR were trying to stem the rot through Karthik (52; 38b; 4×4 2×6) and Shubman Gill (28; 17b; 3×4 1×6) before the latter fell with the team on 106/5 in 14.2 overs.

The big-hitting West Indian smoked five sixes and three fours in the last five overs to take 55 runs and help the purple brigade post a challenging score.

Krishnappa Gowtham (2/15), Jofra Archer (2/33) and Ben Laughlin (2/35) got two wickets each for the Ajinkya Rahane-led side with leg-spinner Ish Sodhi conceding just 15 runs off his four overs.

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Royals’ bowlers made early inroads to reduce KKR to 51/4 after eight overs when Karthik and Gill got together.

The pair joined hands for a 55-run stand for the fifth wicket before Gill departed and Russell stepped on the gas.

Earlier, Sunil Narine started off with a four before the impressive Gowtham got the better of the West Indian all-rounder who failed to read the spin and was stumped by South African wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen.

Robin Uthappa (3) and Nitish Rana (3) fell in successive overs as KKR slumped to 24/3 when Karthik joined Chris Lynn at the crease.

With the first five overs fetching only 32 runs for the loss of three wickets, Karthik and Lynn preyed on Jaydev Unadkat (0/33) to move to 46/3 after six overs, their lowest Powerplay score this season.

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Lynn (18; 22b, 2×4) was then removed by Shreyas Gopal (1/34) just after the Powerplay, caught and bowled.

Karthik looked in imperous touch as he whipped Archer off his legs past the square-leg region for a four in the second ball he faced. The 33-year India stumper then caressed Unadkat for two gorgeous back-to-back cover drives.

At the other end, Gill looked good during his stay at the crease, smashing Gopal for a four and the first six of the match in the 14th over as 20 runs came off it.

The highly-rated U-19 World Cup winner then looked to treat Archer the same way in the next over, but the Barbados seamer cramped him for room after Gill hit him for a four in the first ball to get the outside edge through to Klaasen.

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With the 55-run stand for the fifth wicket between Karthik and Gill broken, in came Russell with KKR still behind par score. Russell then took 19 runs off Unadkat in the 17th over and from there on upped the ante.

Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 169/7 in 20 overs (Dinesh Karthik 52, Andre Russell 49 not out; K Gowtham 2/15, Jofra Archer 2/33, Ben Laughlin 2/35) vs Rajasthan Royals.

–IANS

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