Riyan Parag turned the unlikely hero for Rajasthan Royals (RR) as he mounted a late charge to help Rajasthan Royals overcome host Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by three wickets with four balls to spare, here at the Eden Gardens on Thursday.
Chasing a target of 176 Royals appeared to be headed for another defeat losing its sixth wicket for 123 when Parag scored a defiant 47 off 31 balls. His knock was studded with five boundaries and two sixes.
The 17-year-old Assam batsman showed fine maturity in playing the lead in a 44-run partnership (21 balls) for the seventh wicket with Jofra Archer that sealed the match for Royals.
Parag’s effort overshadowed a fine unbeaten 97 by the KKR captain Dinesh Karthik who helped the host post 175 for six batting first.
Royals managed a good start with Ajinkya Rahane (34) and Sanju Samson (22) pairing in a 53-run opening wicket stand.
Royals captain Steve Smith aptly made out the pace and bounce in the pitch and fielded four pacers to a good effect as he opted to field on winning the toss.
Varun Aaron justified the decision of his new captain sending the KKR opener Chris Lynn back in the third delivery of his opening over, which finished as a wicket-maiden.
KKR slipped into a mini crisis as its batsmen failed to tackle the pace battery of Aaron, Oshane Thomas and Jofra Archer who bowled with discipline while making the most of the benefit offered by the turf.
Shubman Gill and Nitish Rana soon joined Lynn in the dugout as the host’s batting struggled. Arriving early at No. 4 Karthik announced his intention to lead the charge.
The KKR captain struggled initially failing to go after the Royals attack as the host faltered at 49 for three after 10 overs.
Karthik, whose previous best this season was a half-century against Delhi in Feroz Shah Kotla, decided to press the accelerator and scripted a splendid recovery.
With criticism mounting about his batting ability, the KKR captain, who had scored three in the first 10 balls he had faced, played a hurricane innings striking seven fours and nine sixes in his 50-ball stay.
Karthik worked on the KKR revival as he, in company of Sunil Narine, scored 31 runs in seven balls after the stolid 10 overs.
Karthik missed out on a well deserved maiden T20 century but his unbeaten 97 was filled with determination and class.
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