Fourteen years since the first IPL match in 2008, Jos Buttler, Yuzvendra Chahal (5/40) and Shreyas Iyer produced top-class performances in a humdinger of a match at the Brabourne Stadium, where Rajasthan Royals prevailed over Kolkata Knight Riders by seven runs on Monday.
It all started with Buttler’s sensational hundred (103, 61b, 9×4, 5×6) — his second of the season — that powered Rajasthan Royals to 217 for five after being asked to bat first.
Chasing a tall target, Shreyas Iyer (85, 51b, 7×4, 4×6) led from the front for the Knight Riders. In the company of Aaron Finch (58, 28b, 9×4, 2×6), he got the team off to a flyer with a 107-run second-wicket partnership off just 53 balls.
Knight Riders was in complete control of the chase at 178 for four after 16 overss. That’s when Chahal turned things around.
The wily leg-spinner scalped four wickets in one over, including a hat-trick (his first IPL), to claim a fifer and reduce the former two-time champion to 180 for eight.
Shreyas looked determined to take his side home with some clean hitting and smart cricket.
The Knight Riders skipper often targeted the short-side of the boundary by moving across and hitting through the off-side and was unafraid to take on Chahal and Ashwin.
At the start of the 17th over, Venkatesh Iyer was stumped by a googly from Chahal. He then had Shreyas trapped leg-before off the fourth ball before getting Shivam Mavi caught at long-on. Pat Cummins edged a leg-break to keeper Samson to give Chahal his hat-trick.
From 180 for eight, Umesh Yadav kept the Kolkata side in the game, smashing 19 runs off Trent Boult in the 18th over to bring the equation to 18 off the last two.
However, Prasidh Krishna and debutant Obed McCoy held their nerves, with the latter removing Sheldon Jackson and Umesh in the last over of the match to help the Royals defend a score for the fourth time this season.
Earlier, Buttler began by hitting Umesh Yadav down the ground over mid-on and long-on for a four and a six in the third over. He then went after Varun Chakravarthy, striking the spinner for a six and four, both off the back foot.
He targeted the straight boundaries as much as possible and avoided going across to hit the pacers, something that has often got him into trouble.
On a batting beauty with little or no assistance for the bowlers, even a small margin of error in length saw Buttler take full toll.
The Englishman reached his hundred, slamming a juicy full toss from Cummins over long-on. The icing on the cake was the thrilling last-over win for the Royals.