A centurion and a hat-trick. Both in the same match. Both for the same team. Yet Rajasthan Royals were pushed to the brink by Kolkata Knight Riders in a thrilling finish to their IPL 2022 contest at the Brabourne Stadium on Monday night. Chasing 218, KKR imploded to be bowled out for 210 in 19.4 overs with RR securing a seven-run win - their fourth victory of the season which pushed them to the second spot on the points table.
Jos Buttler’s dream season just got a bit better after he knocked the stuffing out of a quality KKR attack with a magnificent second IPL hundred to power Rajasthan Royals to an imposing 217 for five. And then when KKR were cruising along nicely, legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal produced an incredible over to take four wickets in it including a hat-trick off its final three deliveries to knock the winds out of KKR’s sails.
Chasing the imposing target, KKR lost their first wicket to a horrible run out off the very first delivery with Sunil Narine walking back without scoring and facing a single delivery. The non-existent single was Aaron Finch’s call but the Australian redeemed himself with a blistering half-century - 58 off 28 - to put KKR’s chase on track.
Captain Shreyas Iyer then took over and put them in a comfortable position with 85 off 50 before he became the first wicket to fall in Chahal’s route to completing a hat-trick in the 17th over.
In fact, it was a remarkable over which began with Chahal dismissing Venkatesh Iyer on 6 to bring himself on the verge of a hat-trick having dismissed Nitish Rana with the final delivery of his previous over. Sheldon Jackson saw through the hat-trick delivery.
Then Chahal trapped Shreyas Iyer lbw and then had Shivam Mavi hole out for a first-ball duck to give himself another chance at the feat. And this time, he roared loudly with Pat Cummins getting an outside edge to be out caught-behind for a golden duck.
While Chahal and Buttler grabbed the headline, Ravichandran Ashwin also landed a telling blow when he outfoxed the big-hitting Andre Russell have him bowled for a golden duck,.
Earlier, Buttler’s 61-ball-103 had nine fours and five sixes, some of which were out of the ordinary, including one off Umesh Yadav (0/44 in 4 overs) which landed into the adjacent tennis courts of Cricket Club of India.
When he finally got out trying to hook Pat Cummins (1/50 in 4 overs), Royals had crossed 180-run mark and by then the Australian Test captain was hammered for as many as seven fours and a six, bulk of them by the dashing England keeper-batter.
Buttler added 97 runs for the opening wicket stand with Devdutt Padikkal (24 off 18 balls), who only faced deliveries worth three overs in the first 10 overs.
He was then joined by skipper Sanju Samson (38 off 19 balls), who was equally destructive in their 67-run second wicket stand in just 5.4 overs.
None of the KKR bowlers save Sunil Narine (2/21 in 4 overs) looked like posing any threat to Buttler, who seems to be walking away with the Orange Cap with an aggregate of 375 runs in six games so far.
Varun Chakravarthy (0/30 in 2 overs) is getting from bad to worse during the season as neither there is bite nor any mystery in his deliveries and it was like cannon fodder on a Brabourne batting beauty.
The fifth bowling option turned out to be a nightmare as Andre Russell (0/29 in 2 overs) completed Chakravarthy’s quota as they cumulatively gave away 59 runs in 4 overs.
Shivam Mavi (1/34 in 4 overs) and Umesh started off well during the first two overs primarily because Padikkal is out of sorts.
However, showing cricketing smarts, Padikkal gave Buttler bulk of the strike and that changed the course from the third over of the match.
Umesh, who had started the tournament on a bright note, got back to his old self of being erratic as Buttler lofted him for a four and a six off successive deliveries.
The floodgates opened after that as he literally toyed with Chakravarthy, whom he hit for a six by rocking back and having enough time to send him into the orbit.
If there was a wide yorker, he would steer past third-man, short deliveries were pulled and those on the legs were tucked behind square.
With PTI Inputs