In a high-scoring match that had a centurion from both teams, it was Jos Buttler’s efforts that helped Rajasthan Royals get over the line by two wickets at the Eden Gardens, against hosts Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League on Tuesday.

Asked to bat first at the toss, the Knight Riders powered their way to 223/6 at the end of 20 overs, courtesy Sunil Narine’s first-ever century. It was the third century by a player from the Kolkata team in IPL history.

In the run-chase, the Royals got off to a good start, but slowed down after the fall of wickets and some tight bowling by the hosts.

Buttler, the opening batter, managed to find his rhythm at the right time. And with help of a few cameos from Riyan Parag and Rovman Powell, Buttler managed to stitch together his seventh IPL century and help his team get to the 224-run target in the last ball of the match.

With the win, the Royals equalled their own IPL record of highest successful run chase. They had chased a 224-run target set by the Punjab Kings in the 2020 season.

Turning point of the match

The Knight Riders’ bowlers had started to turn the screws on the Royals chase by not giving away many runs and building up the pressure on their batters.

From the ninth over in the second innings to the 14th, only one over went for more than six runs. The Royals’ run-rate dropped dangerously, as the required rate started to spike.

But it all changed in the 15th over, when Buttler hit Varun Chakravarthy for four fours in an over that saw 17 runs being scored. That over gave the Royals’ batters some belief and opened the floodgates. Suddenly, the Royals started to pile on the runs rapidly.

The 16th over went for 17 runs as well, followed by 16 runs in the 17th over. The 18th over had 18 runs and 19 were scored in the 19th to bring the equation to nine needed off the last six.

Buttler thumped Chakravarthy for six off the first ball of the last over, and ran a double on the fifth ball to bring the scores level. In the last ball of the innings, he played it onto the leg-side to complete the winning run.

The Field’s player of the match

There were two centurions today, but Narine’s efforts earned him The Field’s choice of player of the match.

Narine scored his career’s first century – across formats – on Tuesday. His innings of 109 off 56 deliveries was littered with 13 boundaries and six sixes. He brought up his century with a smartly-placed boundary at mid-wicket, in 49 deliveries.

Narine’s innings was the second highest individual score in this season of the IPL, behind Virat Kohli’s unbeaten 113.

Later on, with the ball, Narine registered figures of 2/30 in his four overs. He did have to leave the field briefly after his third over to get some treatment for cramps.

‘We’ll have to see’

Narine has been in key contributor in the Kolkata Knight Riders’ success so far this season. His performances come at a time when international teams from around the world would be looking at the IPL to keep a track of their in-form players as the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup approaches.

Narine had announced his retirement from international cricket in November 2023, and had last played for the West Indies in 2019. But he was asked about if he will be interested in playing the World Cup that starts in June, to which Narine gave an open-ended answer.

“It is what it is, we’ll have to see what the future holds.”

— Sunil Narine on if he will be playing at the upcoming T20 World Cup
Points table after the match on April 16 | Courtesy: Jio Cinema