Disciplined KKR keep Rajasthan to 139/3 despite Smith fifty
Steve Smith remained unbeaten on 73. (BCCI Images)

A sixth IPL half-century from Steve Smith anchored Rajasthan Royals to 139 for 3 against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium on Sunday. Smith partnered Jos Buttler in an alliance of 72 runs for the second wicket, which helped Rajasthan overcome the early wicket dismissal of Ajinkya Rahane, but KKR pulled things back phenomenally towards the end giving away two boundaries and one six in the last five overs. (READ: Match Highlights)

Rahane helped himself to a boundary before Prasidh Krishna cut short the skipper’s innings. There onward, KKR spinners tied Rajasthan down with some disciplined bowling with legspinner Piyush Chawla and Sunil Narine hardly giving anything away. Smith and Buttler played out the Powerplay carefully, in which Rajasthan had just 28 runs to show, the second-lowest score this season. (READ: Know about Sudhesan Midhun)

Rajasthan had gone four overs without a boundary and even though Steve Smith broke the drought in the eighth over, it was Buttler, who set the tempo. Buttler, who had declared his intentions with back-to-back fours off Prasidh initially before being forced to quieten up, targeted the spinners.

Out came the reverse sweeps and Kuldeep Yadav and Narine were taken for a boundary each. The debutant Harry Gurney was launched over deep square leg for Rajasthan’s first six in the 12th over, before a repeat saw him hole out. Four overs later, Gurney picked up his second getting Rahul Tripathi.

Rajasthan could have lost the plot considering their middle-order blushes but Smith ensured the innings maintained sanity. Like Buttler, Smith was kept quiet too, before pulling the trigger to give Rajasthan a move on. Having gone four overs without a boundary, Smith treated Prasidh with two boundaries off three balls, the second of which brought his maiden IPL half-century of the season.

Barring a crunching six by Smith off Narine in the 18th over, KKR hardly bowled boundary balls. Prasidh overstepped and even bowled a beamer in the penultimate over, but on both occasions, Stokes failed to make most of the free-hits. Gurney followed it by bowling a fine final over, using his change of pace to limit the batsmen to four singles and a boundary.

Brief Scores: Rajasthan Royals 139 for 3 (Steve Smith 73*, Jos Buttler 37; Harry Gurney 2 for 25) against Kolkata Knight Riders.