This IPL surely seems different for the Royal Challengers Bangalore this time as Captain Kohli won the toss again and decided to bat first. Kolkata Knight Riders captain Eoin Morgan had won the toss 7 times against Kohli before this match.
Harbhajan Singh opened the bowling for KKR and Devdutt Paddikal and Virat Kohli were the two openers for RCB. Kohli slashed at a ball from mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy but edged it high in the air and Rahul Tripathi caught one of the more difficult catches you’ll see running backwards just outside the 30 yards circle. Rajat Patidar, the next batsman in, got out bowled in the same over, putting two wickets on RCB’s board. Glenn Maxwell was the next batsman in and attacked the bowlers from the word go, scoring a fifty off only 28 balls. Prasidh Krishna got the wicket of his Karnataka teammate Devdutt Paddikal as he hit a pull shot high in the air and Tripathi took a good catch at deep mid-wicket.
Mr. 360 AB de Villiers was the next man in. Maxwell was not holding back by this point and the switch hit Varun Chakravarthy for a six. He looked in sublime form with the ball flying off his bat beautifully. Unfortunately, he edged a pull shot to a fine leg, ending one of his better IPL knocks. AB was also at his best, timing the ball to perfection. Andre Russell was brought into the attack and was immediately smacked for 17 runs by an unstoppable de Villers. Harbhajan was also smacked for 18 in the next over by Jamieson and de Villers. The four off a beamer (inexplicably not called a no-ball) from Russell and the six he hit by lofting Harbhajan’s short ball over covers explains why he is such a dangerous player. It was a special inning by de Villers, 76 off 34 balls. He ended the innings with a boundary and got RCB to a strong target of 204. As a sign of our times, a commentator said, “If this was a full house it would now stand”.
Shubhman Gill and Nitish Rana opened the batting for KKR, and the batting gods were looking favorably on today’s match. Gill hit 2 fours and 2 sixes in his 22 run off just 9 balls. He was timing the ball brilliantly as shown by the pull shot off Kylie Jamison. He got out trying to hit another ball over mid-on but failed to pick the off-cutter and holed the ball to Dan Christian. Then came in Rahul Tripathi who hit his first ball for a stunning drive-through cover. He ended up top-edging Washington Sundar’s delivery to Mohammed Siraj at mid-wicket after hitting 4 more dreamy boundaries for his 25.
Captain Kohli unusually introduced two spinners, Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal, in the powerplay itself, in which KKR scored 57 runs. Chahal got Nitish Rana for 18 with a simple catch at deep mid-wicket. The chasing team’s prospects were looking grim at this point as three wickets had gone down already. The onus was on captain Eoin Morgan and ex-captain Dinesh Kartik to get their team home. Alas, Kartik got out LBW as he failed to read a googly by Chahal-a dream leg-spinner wicket for RCB. Shakib was in next and had to face a magnificent flipper first ball, which missed the bat and the stumps.
The scoring rate remained low till the 13th over when the batsmen decided to get the required rate of 13 down and hit two sixes. Chahal and Siraj had a mix-up and did not attempt to catch the ball as they expected the other to catch it when Morgan edged one in the air. But this was not an expensive drop as Morgan edged one in the air to Kohli at covers. He scored 29 runs in 23 balls. Dangerous Andre Russell was the next man in. 91 runs were required off 38 balls at this point.
It turned out to be an anti-climax in the end as Shakib could not keep up with the required run rate. Russell tried his best and hit some glorious shots but there is only so much one man can do. RCB won comfortably by 38 runs. Three wins in three games for the first time in IPL history, surely something is different?