Sakib al Hasan struck three important blows right when Kolkata Knight Riders needed and smashed 16 off 10 balls at a crucial time to steer them to a five-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Friday.
Sakib dismissed the Royals openers after their partnership had started to gather pace and came back to break another substantial 50-run stand between Shreevats Goswami and Owais Shah that could have hurt Knight Riders more than it did.
Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane put on 45 in six overs before they fell in successive overs to Sakib, who conceded only nine runs in his first spell of three overs.
The former Bangladesh captain made an instant impact giving a breakthrough off his first ball when he had Rahane caught by wicketkeeper Manvinder Bisla for 19.
The second ball of Sakib’s second over was tossed up invitingly and Dravid (28) went after it only to find Manoj Tiwary extra cover ending what could be his final innings at the famous Eden Gardens in his illustrious career. .
Sakib came back in 17th over and conceded his first and only boundary in the over but he managed to take the wicket of Goswami in the process to finish with 3-17, his best bowling performance in IPL so far.
It helped Knight Riders to restrict Royals to 131-5 and they chased down the total in 19.2 overs thanks to three cameos from Jacques Kallis (31 off 38 balls) Bisla (29 off 29 balls) and Tiwary (24 off 18 balls).
Kolkata were in a tensed situation until Sakib, promoted up in the batting order ahead of Yusuf Pathan and Ryan ten Doeschate, hit a six in the penultimate over off right-arm fast medium bowler Amit Singh to bring the asking run rate down to six-run per over for the first time in their innings.
Sakib was out in the next ball when his attempted lofted drive ended up as a catch at cover to Ashok Menaria but it did not cause any damage to the team who reached 137-5 with Doeschate hitting the winning six.
-With New Age input