Rajasthan Royals won a thriller in Abu Dhabi against Kolkata Knight Riders, after the scores between the two were level both in the innings itself and then in a Super Over.
The Royals chose to bat first and, fired by Ajinkya Rahane's composed 72, posted 152-5 in their 20 overs.
In response, Kolkata began slowly but steadily, and in a chase that ebbed and flowed ended up on the same score, forcing the first Super Over of the summer.
KKR needed a Manish Pandey six to post 11-2 in their six deliveries.
Sunil Narine, their star spinner, was then thrown the ball and managed to restrict the combination of Shane Watson and Steve Smith to nine runs from the first five balls.
Smith was calmness personified from the last, punching it into space on the offside and running two to level the scores—on countback, they won the match by virtue of scoring more boundaries.
India international Rahane has batted well all tournament long and served up a measured innings from his 59 balls, allowing the other Royals to play around him.
|Rajasthan Royals Scorecard|
|Ajinkya Rahane||c Suryakumar Yadav b Vinay Kumar||72||59||122.03||6||1|
|Karun Nair||b Vinay Kumar||1||5||20.00||0||0|
|Sanju Samson||b Shakib Al Hasan||20||19||105.26||4||0|
|Shane Watson||run out (Manish Pandey)||33||24||137.50||5||0|
|Stuart Binny||c Manvinder Bisla b Morne Morkel||0||1||0.00||0||0|
|Steve Smith||NOT OUT||19||11||172.72||2||0|
|James Faulkner||NOT OUT||2||1||200.00||0||0|
|TOTAL||(5 wickets; 20 overs)||152|
|Shakib Al Hasan||4||23||1||5.75||8|
Sanju Samson struck four boundaries in his 20, skipper Watson adding five more in a 24-ball 33.
Rahane fell just three balls from the end of the innings, by which point Smith was able to join him with a quickfire cameo.
The good news for the Knight Riders when they took on the chase was that Gautam Gambhir, who had managed just one in four innings in the tournament, finally made some runs.
With his opening partner Manvinder Bisla falling cheaply, it was essential that he and Jacques Kallis steadied the reply.
Their progress was safe enough but ponderous, and the required run rate by the halfway stage had crept up to 9.4 an over.
|Kolkata Knight Riders Scorecard|
|Gautam Gambhir||c Iqbal Abdulla b Rajat Bhatia||45||44||102.27||4||0|
|Manvinder Bisla||c Karun Nair b Kane Richardson||3||9||33.33||0||0|
|Jacques Kallis||c Steve Smith b Pravin Tambe||13||17||76.47||1||0|
|Manish Pandey||lbw Pravin Tambe||19||11||172.72||1||1|
|Suryakumar Yadav||c Steve Smith b James Faulkner||31||19||163.15||3||1|
|Shakib Al Hasan||NOT OUT||29||18||161.11||3||0|
|Robin Uthappa||b James Faulkner||0||1||0.00||0||0|
|Vinay Kumar||b James Faulkner||0||1||0.00||0||0|
|Piyush Chawla||run out (Steve Smith)||0||1||0.00||0||0|
|Sunil Narine||NOT OUT||1||1||100.00||0||0|
|EXTRAS||(nb 2, w 6, b 1, lb 2)||11|
|TOTAL||(8 wickets; 20 overs)||152||152|
And when both Manish Pandey and Gambhir fell in quick succession, having looked well set, it seemed as if the Knight Riders had lost their momentum.
But the next combination was devastating, with Suryakumar Yadav and Shakib Al Hasan combining to devastating effect.
Their 49-run stand came in just 27 balls, so even when Yadav holed out to the opening ball of James Faulkner's final over, his side needed 16 runs for victory from 11 deliveries.
Faulkner was sharp, applying the squeeze, then prying out Robin Uthappa and Vinay Kumar in an over that cost just four runs.
But Shakib, by now on 20 from 13 balls, was in good touch and on strike—and when Kane Richardson served up a full toss first ball, the momentum changed again.
Piyush Chawla was run out pushing for two as they pushed—but then dithered—for two runs on the next ball.
Down to the wire the match crept, with Shakib left needing three to win from the final ball. He managed two, to force a Super Over.
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