Knight Riders cruise past Rajasthan

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Three telling blows with the ball from Shakib Al Hasan and a string of cameos with the bat were enough to carry the Kolkata Knight Riders to a five-wicket win over the Rajasthan Royals in Friday's Indian Premier League clash at Eden Gardens.

Three telling blows with the ball from Shakib Al Hasan and a string of cameos with the bat were enough to carry the Kolkata Knight Riders to a five-wicket win over the Rajasthan Royals in Friday's Indian Premier League clash at Eden Gardens.

Heading into the match without the services of Australian fast bowler Brett Lee, the Kolkata outfit were relying on Bangladesh spinner Shakib to succeed on a slow pitch.

The Man of the Matfch dutifully delivered, snaring the key wickets of Rahul Dravid, Ajinkya Rahane and Shreevats Goswami at the cost of just 17 runs in his four overs.

Rajasthan were left an inability to elevate their run-rate on the back of a strong 45-run alliance at the top of the knock between Dravid and Rahane.

While Owais Shah and Shreevats Goswami enjoyed a 59-run stand in the middle order, it didn't come at any great shakes, with some late-innings hitting from Brad Hodge proving the difference between a very poor score and one marginally below average.

Either way, 131 for five soon proved to be not enough.

Jacques Kallis, true to form, orchestrated a measured vigil at the helm of the chase and the Knight Riders hardly looked back from there.

The home side, like the opposition, couldn't boast one high-scoring batsman, but Kallis' 31, Manvinder Bisla's 29, Manoj Tiwary's 24 and Al Hasan's 16 saw them across the line with four balls to spare.

Royals captain Dravid rotated his bowlers to superbly, but a modest target always had them on the back foot. Spinners Botha and Brad Hogg were very economical in the sluggish conditions, but the international signings didn't enjoy enough support to truly pose an insurmountable threat.

Friday's result elevated the Kolkata franchise to fourth in the nine-team standings, while the Royals slipped to fifth. Saturday brings and all-important show down between the Pune Warriors and Chennai Super Kings.

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