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IPL 2018 KKR vs RR Eliminator: Andre Russell eliminates Rajasthan Royals, takes KKR to Qualifier 2
Andre Russell blasts 49* off 25 deliveries and bowls three good overs to take the Kolkata Knights Riders to Qualifier 2 against SRH.

  
Royals bottle: After 15 overs, Rajasthan Royals were 111/2, chasing 170 for victory. Kolkata Knight Riders had been on 114/5 at the same stage. The two-time champions scored 55 runs in the last five overs to take the game away from the opposition. Royals managed only 33 runs between over number 15 and 20 to hand KKR a 25-run victory. Only three fours were hit in 30 legal deliveries at the death. Royals bottled the chase.

Ajinkya Rahane was anchoring his team’s chase, opening the innings. The idea seemed to be building the base before throwing the kitchen sink. Sanju Samson, too, looked to be in very good touch. But Kuldeep Yadav snapped up Rahane in the first ball of the 15th over, which ended a 62-run second wicket partnership. The onus shifted to young Samson to play the lead. He reached his half-century in 37 balls but departed two deliveries hence, mistiming a pull against Piyush Chawla and holing out to Javon Scantlebury-Searles at long-on. Samson could have been the hero. He bottled the opportunity.

“We didn’t bat well throughout the season. Bowlers were fantastic. Fielding and batting, we will look to improve next year and will come back stronger,” Rahane said after the match. To be fair though, KKR’s bowling was top-class and Royals badly missed Jos Buttler in this win-or-bust contest.

Rewind to the KKR innings now, to the 16th over, when the game hung in the balance. A 55-run fifth wicket partnership between Dinesh Karthik and Shubman Gill had helped KKR overcome a shaky start on a two-paced Eden Gardens pitch. But a big push was needed for a strong finish. Jaydev Unadkat returned for his second spell.

Rahane had other options to fall back on. K Gowtham, who bowled beautifully with the new ball, had an over left. Ben Laughlin still had three in the bag. Jofra Archer had two. But Royals’ Rs 11.5 crore auction buy was preferred, ostensibly to bowl his cutters on a sluggish surface. Unadkat bowled seam up instead and saw Karthik scoop him over the ‘keeper’s head for a four. A single next ball brought Andre Russell into the strike. Unadkat took the pace off the ball but offered hitting length. The big Jamaican smoked him over wide long-on for a six. The left-arm seamer failed to learn from his mistakes. Another length ball, wide outside the off stump, was crunched through covers for a four by Russell. A 19-run over changed the complexion of the match, putting KKR in the ascendancy.
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