With two back-to-back wins in Sharjah, Rajasthan Royals came to Dubai with the hope of making it three in three but got a reality check handed by Kolkata Knight Riders. However, Jofra Archer showed a brilliant game-sense with his pace, ensuring Andre Russell's move failed to take off.
Archer knows his game
In the first two games that Rajasthan Royals played, Archer looked like a pale shadow of his usual self and was so reliant on his variations that he ended up conceding 72 runs for one wicket. It was surprising because just in the Australia series preceding IPL, Jofra was hitting the nail nicely, dishing out 147-150kph deliveries on a regular basis. He traded the leg cutters and knuckle balls for pace and his slowest ball of the first over today was 147kph, ending up conceding just a solitary run. He brought a little variation when Russell - against whom he had a middle-over history - came out to bat but that was absolutely a class performance from the Barbadian who exchanged the histrionics with a plan to back it up. And guess it worked!
KKR’s diabolical game taking them nowhere
Firstly, KKR have a problem they are too afraid to address. They are too rigid in their plan for Sunil Narine even though it is apparent right now that he is not being able to hit the straps against quality pace anymore. That aside, with a long tail to follow they can’t maximise Eoin Morgan’s impact either if Andre Russell bats at the top. That effectively renders a batting side devoid of any spunk when pace rules the roost. As we saw in the game when Morgan walked out at No.6, the side was already in strife and any amount of high risk was out of the equation. Thankfully, for the couple of good overs that they had, KKR managed to get 174 runs in 20 overs but boy, could they afford to do this and get away every single time?
Rajasthan are still in Sharjah hangover
The fact that, unlike other teams, Rajasthan Royals played their first two games in Sharjah, with one game to go at the venue, it was always going to be a change in strategy for the team once they move to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It surely did with Kolkata playing percentage cricket but Rajasthan Royals falling prey to an undecoded game-plan that left them scratching the barrel even before the powerplay came to an end. Once Steve Smith, Sanju Samson and Jos Buttler were dismissed, they were nowhere to go than playing catch-up in the run-chase. It is a problem in a big stadium that always has a tendency to show up but RR’s Sharjah hangover ensured they were far off the mark. Andrew McDonald will have to ensure this doesn’t happen again and the side come prepared for the same.
Nagarkoti has lost none of it
Kamlesh Nagarkoti is a story for ages. Maybe not on Page 3, not for the sponsors running behind but a story that defies the cricketing convention and makes it richer. After his U-19 exploits, which seemed like ages now, he played just two List A games in the same month as the World Cup, but KKR backed him despite a career-threatening injury forcing a two-year absence. He is back now in KKR colours, playing only his second game for the franchise, and bowled two nonchalant overs to force all the camera focusing on his determined face. His change of pace was excellent, his swing sucked the blood out of Riyan Parag and Robin Uthappa as he announced the much-awaited comeback in a maverick style. He went for a few runs in the next overs but would you mind that? It is a shame that he was doing the magic in front of an empty stadium and not with the chants breaking the roof of Eden Gardens. Imagine how sweeter it would have been!