Andre Russell’s 48* off 13 stuns RCB to keep them winless
Kolkata Knight Riders 206 for 5 (Russell 48*, Lynn 43, Negi 2-21) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 205 for 3 (Kohli 84, de Villiers 63) by five wickets. Andre Russell produced fourth consecutive devastating innings, clubbing an unbeaten 13-ball 48 as Kolkata Knight Riders chased a steep total with five balls to spare. Chasing 206, Knight Riders needed 66 off 24 at one point, and then 53 off 18 with Russell having faced two balls.
From there, Royal Challengers Bangalore used four bowlers – Mohammed Siraj was suspended halfway through the 18th for a second beamer – all of whom were pumped to various corners of the ground by Russell who needed only eight scoring shots to score 46 of the 53 required. It particularly soured the night for Royal Challengers captain Virat Kohli, whose 84 and a 108-run stand with AB de Villiers seemed to have set up a win they desperately needed, having come into the game with four consecutive losses. The result told a familiar story – a long-standing deficit of quality death bowling, even on a night where they had seven bowling options.
Siraj had had a night to forget even before he was handed the ball for the 18th over. He had put down two catches – Chris Lynn and Nitish Rana’s – and had bowled a beamer that was hit for six. With 53 required off 18, he started with two dot balls, fizzing past Russell’s outside edge on both occasions. But just when he seemed to have redeemed himself, he bowled a bouncer that was called wide. From there, Royal Challengers lost control altogether.
His next ball, the beamer that got him suspended, was slapped for six. The ensuing free-hit, mercilessly handed to Marcus Stoinis who had to complete the over, also went for six. And so did the next ball. Twenty-three came off that over. Tim Southee, brought in place of Umesh Yadav, and with a reputation for tight death-overs bowling, seemed to be switching between many ideas. He bowled from both over and around, tried slower balls, short lengths, full lengths – pretty much all that’s there – and was carted for four sixes and a four. Russell had managed to get 28 off that over, and 47 off his last nine balls. Knight Riders needed only a run off the last over.
They lost Sunil Narine early, but Knight Riders’ top-order batsmen made use of the favourable batting conditions. Lynn finally hit form – and the roof, a couple of times – and put on a crucial 65 with a free-flowing Robin Uthappa. Rana then kept the wheels moving even though the spinners slowed Knight Riders down in the middle overs. Together, Yuzvendra Chahal and Pawan Negi had figures of 7.1-0-45-3. But Negi was not bowled out, and Moeen Ali, the seventh bowling option that Kohli had said during the toss gave him comfort as a captain, was not used.
Kohli had said at the toss that his team was looking to enjoy the game again rather than desperately chase outcomes. It showed, at the very least, in his game. Kohli began the evening with two cover drives, the first one as perfect as cover drives come. Then, he toyed with Lockie Ferguson, hitting him for boundaries off alternate balls around the ground – one from outside off to the square leg boundary, one past point, and a slightly straighter ball past the non-striker.
Rana had dismissed Kohli and de Villiers off consecutive deliveries last season, and he nearly got Kohli first ball on Friday. Kohli’s mistimed flick was an easy grab for Sunil Narine at midwicket, but he was too late to react and let it straight through. This was in the eighth over, when Knight Riders’ spinners had begun pulling things back after the Powerplay. Rana got Parthiv in that over, but the drop proved to be costly. De Villiers was also put down, in the 12th over off Kuldeep Yadav. The batsman was on 11 off 11 at the time and seemed not to be picking the spinners. The last time he was dropped, against Mumbai Indians for 0, he made 70. On Friday, he added 52 more.
With the chances put down and the settling done, Kohli and de Villiers didn’t hold back. De Villiers found a way against the spinners, getting deep in the crease and slapping all his boundaries against them over extra cover. Kohli was truer to his style – only eight boundaries and two sixes in his 84 – and, together, they were the relentless force that gives Royal Challengers the batting reputation that they have.
Royal Challengers made 94 runs between overs 10 and 17, and the pair had put on 108 in 56 balls before Kohli drilled one straight back to Kuldeep. In the middle of that phase, Knight Riders seemed to have no answers; Russell’s only over, the 14th of the innings, was de Villiers’ launching pad, where he hit his first two sixes. The very next over Karthik took a gamble by giving Rana a second over. Eighteen came off that. Before Knight Riders could breathe – which they did briefly at the end with spin stifling Royal Challengers – the home team had grabbed the advantage. Little did they know it would desert them so close to a victory.