Rajasthan Royals' pacers completely dominated proceedings and outplayed Kolkata Knight Riders to defeat the defending champions by 19 runs at Sawai Mansingh stadium at Jaipur on Monday.
Rajasthan Royals maintained their impeccable 'home record' against Kolkata Knight Riders. Defending a a total of 144, the Royals' pace attack performed as a unit to bowl out KKR for 125 in 19 overs.
The Royals survived a late blitz by Eoin Morgan, who top-scored for his side with 51 off 38 balls (3x4, 3x6) , to safely register their 2nd win of the 2013 season. Unfortunately for Kolkata Morgan got no support from the other end.
Royals' ploy of playing on a seaming track at the Sawai Mann Singh worked wonderfully well as veteran domestic workhorse Siddharth Trivedi (3/23) and young unheralded Jharkhand boy Rahul Shukla (2/28) ran through the top-half of the opposition to pave the way for an easy victory.
Kevon Cooper, then, bowled brilliantly at the death to polish off the tail with figures of 3/15.
Gambhir attacked Sreesanth straightaway as he hit the Kerala pacer for a boundary and a huge six over deep square leg to get 14 runs from the opening over.
Shukla surprised one and all as he worked up a lively pace in the mid 140 kmp to knock back Manvinder Bisla's (1) stumps and then got one to kick up from short of length as Jacques Kallis (0) helpless edged one to Dishant Yagnik.
Manoj Tiwary (14) was trapped leg before off Trivedi's very first over as KKR were reduced to 40 for three.
But when Gautam Gambhir (22) was also snuffed out by Trivedi with glovesman Yagnik pulling off an acrobatic catch, the writing seemed to be on the wall. Yusuf Pathan's terrible run in KKR shirt continued as he gave catching practice to Yagnik, who got his third catch off Kevon Cooper's delivery.
The half of the team was back in the hut with the score less than 50. Trivedi's dream night continued as Laxmi Ratan Shukla was holed out in the deep and the chase seemed to hit dead end.
Earlier, Brad Hodge used all his experience in the shortest format to good effect as he propelled Rajasthan Royals to a decent 144 for six.
Hodge smashed 46 off 31 balls with seven boundaries as Royals got 38 runs in the last three overs after KKR bowlers had maintained discipline for the better part of the 17 overs.
Narine's figures were somewhat damaged by Hodge and left-handed keeper-batsman Dishant Yagnik (16) who clobbed him for 18 runs in the penultimate over.
Shane Watson's (5) arrival was much anticipated in the Royals' ranks but it lasted a mere 10 balls as he uppishly drove Brett Lee only to be caught by Eoin Morgan in the extra cover region. This was after having lofted the previous delivery over the mid-off fielder for a boundary.
Rahane got into the double figures with back-to-back boundaries in Shami Ahmed's next over with a cover drive and a steer towards third-man boundary. With skipper Dravid for company, the duo added 35 runs for the second wicket and looked like consolidating the innings.
However, KKR's 'Go-To' Man for the past couple of seasons Rajat Bhatia got the important wicket of Dravid (17) with an innocuous delivery. The Delhi veteran bowled one that pitched on length and came straight but Dravid tried to play across the line to find the stumps rattled.
It seemed Stuart Binny (14, 3x4) started from where he left against Delhi Daredevils but Laxmi Ratan Shukla angled one into the right-hander to trap him leg before.
Rahane and Brad Hodge took the score past 100 and the young Mumbaikar hit a breathtaking six over extra cover off Shami Ahmed's bowling.
Just when Rahane looked like getting set for a big knock, KKR's 'Mystery Man' struck twin blow. First he got a straighter one, which Rahane edged to Manvinder Bisla behind the stumps. Rahane faced 34 balls for his 36.
A ball later, Narine removed Kevon Cooper for a duck as Bisla pulled off a smart stumping to reduce Royals to 102 for five.
Ajinkya Rahane's 36 (3x4, 1x6) was the only other significant contribution as Sunil Narine had the best figures of two for 28 in four overs.
Earlier, Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Gautam Gambhir called right at the coin toss and opted to bowl first against Rajasthan Royals in their Indian Premier League match at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium at Jaipur on Monday.
Rajasthan have drafted Australian all-rounder Shane Watson into the side in place of Sri Lankan Kusal Perera. The hosts have also brought in Shaun Tait and Dishant Yagnik in place of Samuel Badree and Ashok Menaria.
Kolkata, meanwhile, have made only one change to the side that defeated Delhi Daredevils at Eden Gardens. L Balaji has made way for Shami Ahmed in the pace department.
Rajasthan Royals: 144 for 6 in 20 overs (Brad Hodge 46 not out, Ajinkya Rahane 36; Sunil Narine 2/28).
Kolkata Knight Riders: 125 in 19 overs (Eoin Morgan 51, Kevon Cooper 3/15, Siddharth Shukla 3/23).
Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid (c), Shane Watson, Ajinkya Rahane, Stuart Binny, Brad Hodge, Dishant Yagnik, Kevon Cooper, Siddharth Trivedi, Shaun Tait, S Sreesanth and Rahul Shukla.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (c), Manvinder Bisla, Jacques Kallis, Manoj Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan, Eoin Morgan, Lakshmi Ratna Shukla, Rajat Bhatia, Brett Lee, Sunil Narine and Shami Ahmed.