The abundance of firepower in Kolkata Knight Riders bowling unit was much talked about before the start of Indian Premier League 2020 season. Team's skipper Dinesh Karthik, and experts alike, believed the presence of young pacers like Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi and Sandeep Warrier and topping that with the inclusion of Aussie Test No.1 Pat Cummins made them a fiery bowling unit on the paper.
Such hopes dwindled when they came a cropper in a heavy defeat against Mumbai Indians. However, on Wednesday the pace battery just showed that they need to be taken seriously as they ran through an in-form Rajasthan Royals batting order to give the side a big 37-run win after Shubman Gill (47 runs) and Eoin Morgan (34*) took the side to 174/6 while batting first.
Under-19 duo Kamlesh Nagarkoti (13/2) and Shivam Mavi (25/2), aptly supported by Cummins (13/1), were the stars of the night as they made a mockery of the RR top order led by Steve Smith.
Defending 175, KKR made the best use of the new ball with Mavi, Nagarkoti and Cummins running through the RR top order. The early blow to the side was in skipper Steve Smith (3 runs off 7 balls), who struggled against his Oz compatriot Cummins in the second over of the ininings before being caught behind by DK.
Former U-19 stars Mavi and Nagarkoti backed this up with four wickets in quick succession, leaving the double Rs struggling at 42/5 by the eighth over. Mavi first claimed the prized scalps of in-form Sanju Samson (8 off 9) and Jos Buttler (21 off 16). Nagarkoti quickly joined the party to claim his maiden IPL wicket in Robin Uthappa (2 off 7) and followed it with Riyan Parag (1 off 6) as KKR fielders enjoyed a catching practice session.
The match was out of RR’s from this point onwards as spinners Varun Chakraborty (25/2) and Kuldeep Yadav kept the tailenders in check to ensure RR were restricted at 137/9. Tom Curran (54* off 36) was the only positive in batting for RR, which earlier took the tournament by fire on flat pitches of Sharjah.
Earlier in the first ininngs, KKR found a fast and furious Jofra Archer too hot to handle as they were restricted to 174 for six by RR.
Archer (2/18) hit the deck hard and clocked the fastest delivery of the tournament (152.1 kph) in a fiery spell, taking two key wickets of KKR -- in-form opener Shubman Gill (47 from 34 balls) and skipper Dinesh Karthik (1) -- after the Royals opted to field.
With Archer triggering a mid-innings collapse, the big-hitting Andre Russell (24 from 14) too was dismissed cheaply and it was left to England World Cup-winning skipper Eoin Morgan (23-ball 34 not out) to stay till the end.
Archer bowled the first over of the match and there was full pace in display in the range of 145-150kph mark and it needed Gill's brilliance to see him off with just one run from it.
With Gill looking well set for a second successive fifty, Archer was reintroduced in the 12th over and he dismissed the set opener straightway with a leading edge.
In his next over, Archer dismissed Karthik with beauty, full of pace that went straight with a bit of inswing and the KKR skipper was forced to play, edging straight to Jos Buttler.
Russell was finally promoted up at No. 5 but the star Jamaican became victim of Ankit Rajpoot while trying to accelerate the scoring rate.
Russell's wicket meant KKR lost four wickets for 33 runs in the back-10 and with KKR playing with an extra bowler, it was left to Morgan to prop up the total.