Knight Riders from Kolkata hosted the Royal Challengers of Bangalore at former’s home ground on Friday. Having lost its previous 2 games at Eden gardens against Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals, the main aim for the home side was looking to reverse their fortunes and three-match losing streak. On the other hand, RCB carried the positive hopes of making a strong comeback in the competition, thus extending its fortunes achieved recently. All eyes were set on the return of the South African pacer, Dale Steyn which boosted the RCB camp. The contest between both the teams promised an exciting clash as Andre Russel and Dale Steyn, the foreign powerhouses were expected to outperform their respective opponents and thus play the role of game changers for their respective franchises.
Dinesh Karthik opted to field first on the lively track of the Eden gardens. Realizing the importance of the game, Knight Riders faced a bold challenge from the Kohli troops, who had nothing to lose from the encounter. With the points table being highly fluctuating and KKR slipping down to the sixth position after 3 consecutive losses, the home team was very desperate to gain maximum benefit out of all their remaining encounters. The RCB skipper, Virat Kohli seemed to be comfortable facing the KKR bowling up comprising the likes of left-right pace combination of Harry Gurney & Prasidh Krishna. The statistics favoured Virat as the Indian-RCB leader had dominated the opponents in his previous 2 knocks at Bangalore in 2018 and 2019 where the scores read 68*(44) and 84(49) respectively. With the missing services of ABD for the Reds, it was important for the top order to support Kohli in his absence to make a strong impact in the game. The regular opening duo of Parthiv-Kohli had a responsibility to provide a solid start for the team. However, the wicketkeeper-batsmen fumbled against the Caribbean spin of Narine as he was caught by Nitish Rana at the deep mid-wicket and was back in the dug-out for a mere score of 11. Andre Russell was impressive with the ball despite fret over his fitness. The Jamaican all-rounder proved to be a surprise package for RCB batsmen with the variations in his spell of 3 overs including a short-pitch delivery on the surface which took the scalp of Nath and put the visitors in a tricky situation of 60/2 by the end of 9 overs including just 42 runs from the powerplay. However, Moeen Ali joined in for RCB and thus managed to sieze momentum post a slow start. Ali’s brisk knock helped Virat to gear up his innings as per the situation demanded. The English Southpaw smacked the talented Chinaman for 27 runs in an over including 3 maximum and 2 bondaries which ripped apart the KKR’s bowling attack. However, mistiming the last ball, Moeen was out for 66 off his 28 ball stay. Kohli shifted the gears of his innings after his half-century form 40 deliveries to the next lot of 50 off just 17 balls, studded with 5 fours and 3 sixes. Bringing up the first ton of the season, Kohli forced the 60,000 spectators at the Eden to change loyalty and appreciate the Indian-RCB captain for his heroics. With the help of the 5th IPL ton by Kohli and brilliant knock by English all-rounder, RCB put a target of 214 runs ahead of the hosts.
KKR begin the 214-run chase with Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine out to open the innings as Dale Steyn held the ball for the first time in the competition. The Steyn-gun was overloaded and ready to explode as the trigger was pressed. Steyn managed to pick 2 crucial wickets of Lynn and Gill, who had the responsibility of providing a solid start for the Riders. Saini, too chipped in and made useful contribution by dismissing Narine, who had proved himself in the past to be handy for KKR during chasing big totals. As the approach seemed to be weird by the home side, Nitish Rana and Andre Russell campe prepared with an unread script for the Challengers. Andre Russel hit the second fastest fifty of this year’s IPL and was very well supported by Nitish Rana from the other end as the left-handed batsmen played a perfect foil to hunt the run-chase. The big hitting Carribean-Riders batsmen launched Yuzvendra Chahal for three consecutive 6’s in an over as the crowd were boosted and the chase seemed to be very much alive. Steyn was bought back in action as the pacer came in to finish his spell. With no mercy on the bowler, Rana collected 2 sixes and a boundary to return the Steyn-gun with an economy of 10 for his maiden appearance for RCB. Russell faced to understand the pace and length of Stoinis as the in-form batsmen faced 3 dot balls which saw the equation slipping out of KKR hands. With 24 runs needed of last over, Kohli chipped in Moeen Ali instead of Yuzi as the latter had gone for 45 off his 3 overs. The decision turned out to be fruitful as the Ali defended the total and thus kept it simple for RCB at the end as KKR fell short off target by 10 runs.
RCB look to gain some momentum with its next 2 encounters scheduled at home while KKR focus on not losing the track further and regain its lost focus at the Eden Garden.
Here is how Twitter reacted to how KKR almost pulled off the miraculous chase from a stage of hopelessness:
— Sourav Ganguly (@SGanguly99) April 19, 2019
— Kris Srikkanth (@KrisSrikkanth) April 19, 2019
— Lisa Sthalekar (@sthalekar93) April 19, 2019
— AB de Villiers (@ABdeVilliers17) April 19, 2019