Cricbuzz Staff in Kolkata •
Narine smashed a 17-ball half-century, his second fastest in IPL as KKR opened their IPL campaign with a 4-wicket win © BCCI
Kolkata Knight Riders stretched their head-to-head lead over Royal Challengers Bangalore as they made a winning start at home against Virat Kohli & Co., courtesy a successful run chase. In chase of RCB’s 176/7, a sensational start, via Sunil Narine’s 17-ball half-century, allowed the hosts to romp home with seven balls and four wickets to spare.
KKR let a mouth-watering RCB top-four get a first crack at batting. How did that go?
Quite inconsistently, Brendon McCullum did his bit as the top-order aggressor with a 27-ball 43, but Quinton de Kock couldn’t. Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers had a happy reunion with a 64-run stand off 36 balls, but once that was cut short in unbelievable manner, RCB lost their way a bit. Sarfaraz Khan’s failure (6 off 10 balls) allowed KKR to get a grip on the game towards the end of the innings, before Mandeep Singh ensured a very late flourish – including a 16-run final over off Vinay Kumar – would take RCB to 176 for 7. But even that wasn’t enough, as Kohli would later admit that they were perhaps 15 runs short.
What did Nitish Rana achieve?
A story that he can tell his grandchildren. A tale of just two balls where he unbelievably dismissed both AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli. AB fell for the part-timers trap by deciding to throw his bat at nearly everything, while Kohli – who’d only managed 31 off 32 till that point – was caught off-guard by a yorker that sneaked in under his bat and hit the middle-stump.
Who set up KKR’s chase?
The serial RCB wrecker Sunil Narine [139 runs off 54 balls at a strike rate of 257.40 in his four outings against RCB]. Virat Kohli threw his best bowler – Yuzvendra Chahal – at the nonchalant left-hander, and failed. Narine began with a four and a six and retained that demeanour for the rest of his brief-but-incredibly-effective stay. His opening partner Chris Lynn fell early, but Narine laid down the marker in Chris Woakes’s second over – taking him for 20 runs. He then proceeded to toy with RCB’s recent recruit Washington Sundar, reaching a 17-ball half-century – his second-best effort in the IPL – by the end of the fifth over. By the time he was dismissed – by Umesh Yadav in the sixth over – KKR had 65 runs on the board.
How did RCB let him get away this time?
Kohli’s decision to unleash both Chahal and Washington was because the skipper trusts his spinners. But that turned out to be the missed trick for RCB. In Narine’s boom-or-bust batting style, the biggest threat for the left-hander has been extra yard of pace. Narine has a strike rate of 221.21 against spin compared to 131.25 against pace. He hits a six every 5.50 balls vs spin in comparison to 24 balls vs pace. And on a lively wicket at the Eden Gardens, opting to bring in Umesh Yadav a lot sooner than the sixth over may have helped curb the KKR opener. Narine was beaten first up by Umesh, before he played a wide full toss onto the stumps.
Who carried KKR forward?
Dinesh Karthik and Nitish Rana. The excellent start from Narine was there to be consolidated, and after Robin Uthappa’s early dismissal, it was down to Rana and Karthik to take up the task. Kohli’s realisation that pace and bounce will trouble the batsmen on that surface, prompted him to hand successive overs for Umesh and left-arm pacer Kulwant Khejroliya. But the latter, however, erred in line and was taken apart by Rana. By the halfway stage, KKR had 98 for 3 on the board and looked comfortable with an asking rate of a little over seven-and-a-half for the rest of their innings. Kohli, meanwhile, appeared to have instructed his fast bowlers to keep digging the ball short.
What didn’t work for Kohli is the fact that Chahal had an off day, and Washington made a nervy RCB debut. Together, the pair conceded 77 runs in seven overs for just one wicket. With the asking rate slashed, Karthik and Rana dealt smartly with the spin duo, collecting 33 off the 22 balls they faced against them.
Was the finish straightforward?
Not quite. Washington conceded a lot of runs, but he also accounted for Rana’s wicket that gave RCB hope for late revival. The equation was down to 36 off 30 balls, but IPL debutant Rinku Singh fell to Woakes and another last-gasp finish was on the cards. Andre Russell, though, showed no signs of rustiness due to inactivity in recent times, as he smashed 14 in a 15-run 17th over. He departed to Woakes through a superb catch from AB de Villiers when he nearly collided with Brendon McCullum, but that bit of theatrics wasn’t enough to pull the game back in RCB’s favour. Vinay Kumar put the finishing touches with a four in the penultimate ball of the 19th over.
Where do they go from here?
RCB have some time to introspect their unimpressive start in the four-day break before they take on Ravichandran Ashwin’s KXIP at home next Friday (April 13). KKR meanwhile, will take a flight out to Chennai for a much-anticipated game on Tuesday (April 10) which will mark CSK’s first home fixture since 2015.
Brief Scores: Royal Challengers Bangalore 176/7 in 20 overs (AB de Villiers 44, Brendon McCullum 43, Mandeep Singh 37; Vinay Kumar 2-30, Nitish Rana 2-11) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders (Sunil Narine 50, Dinesh Karthik 35*, Nitish Rana 34; Chris Woakes 3-36, Umesh Yadav 2-27) by four wickets