Kolkata: Left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav starred with an impressive four-wicket spell as he set up Kolkata Knight Riders to a comfortable six-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals in the match number 49 of the Indian Premier League at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Tuesday.
Kuldeep (4/20) baffled Rajasthan Royals batsmen with his wrist spin as the visitors were bowled out for 142 from 19 overs after being sent into bat.
KKR chased down the small target with two overs to spare with Chris Lynn top-scoring with a 42-ball 45 while skipper Dinesh Karthik remaining unbeaten on 41 off 31 deliveries. Karthik took his side home with a six as KKR reached 145 for 4 in 18 overs.
With the win, KKR kept themselves in the hunt for a play-offs spot with 14 points from 13 matches as they remained at the third spot.
Rajasthan Royals, meanwhile, stuck on 12 points from 13 matches and they will now find it difficult to make it to the play-offs though theoretically still in contention.
Opener Narine gave KKR a flying start taking K Gowhtam to cleaners with 21 runs from the first over with two fours and two sixes.
Ben Stokes claimed two wickets -- that of Narine and Robin Uthappa (4) -- in successive overs en route to his superb 3/15 as KKR looked in a spot of bother with 69/3, requiring 74 from 70 balls.
But Lynn remained steady and cut down his strokes to anchor the innings. He and Karthik batted sensibly to put together 48 runs before the Australian became Stokes' third victim but by then the equation had come down to a simple 26 from 28 balls.
Sent in, RR were looking ominous at 59 for no loss after four overs, already their highest inside the powerplay, before the home side triggered a batting collapse on the visitors in the middle overs by taking six wickets for 31 runs.
With none of their middle-order batsmen showing any fight, it would have been worse for RR but No. 8 Jaydev Unadkat struck 26 from 18 balls (3x4, 1x6) before Prasidh Krishna dismissed him to end the innings in the 19th over.
The India chinaman spinner had a nightmarish outing in their last game here, leaking 43 runs in three overs against Mumbai Indians but it was a different evening as he turned it around with the season’s best show of 4/20.
Shouldering extra responsibility in the absence of an injured Piyush Chawla (side strain), Yadav's magic arm completely exposed RR's frailty in tackling spin, as his four-for included the prized wicket of Jos Buttler (39 from 22 balls; 5x4, 2x6).
Coming in the eighth over, Kuldeep ran through his four overs and took a wicket in each of them to help KKR bounce back from a poor start.
It was Andre Russell (2/13 from three overs) who used his short-pitch ball strategy to full effect to dismiss Rahul Tripathi for 27 (15 balls; 4x4, 1x6).
Thereafter, KKR seized the momentum riding on Yadav and Sunil Narine's tidy show (1/29).