Clinical KKR bowlers set up facile nine-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Even before a single ball was bowled in the clash between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders in Abu Dhabi on Monday, all eyes were on Virat Kohli. Apart from the game being his 200th for Bangalore, the 32-year-old’s decision to quit T20 captaincy — both for India and RCB — has put the spotlight on Kohli’s every move even more than usual. 

With five wins from seven games in the first leg of the competition, Bangalore were eager to continue from where they left off in early May. But the landmark game for Kohli did not go according to plan with the skipper being dismissed for just five. In the first half of the season, when Kohli failed, someone or the other in the top five always delivered. That clearly wasn’t the case against Kolkata as Bangalore were bowled out for a paltry 92. Kolkata had absolutely no trouble in the run chase as they cruised to a comprehensive nine-wicket win with exactly 10 overs to spare. Debutant Venkatesh Iyer made a mark with the bat for KKR with an unbeaten 41 off 27 balls.   

Having just collected four points from seven matches in the first leg, Kolkata looked determined to set things in order, with Varun Chakravarthy and Andre Russell scalping three wickets apiece. The night primarily belonged to the Indian mystery spinner, who once again showed that the decision to select him in India’s squad for the T20 World Cup was the right one.  

For Bangalore, though Devdutt Padikkal looked in decent touch, debutant KS Bharat could not score freely, inviting pressure on not just himself but also the others to follow. And when the dependable AB de Villiers was out for a golden duck, they were reeling at 52/4. The pensive faces in the Bangalore dugout narrated the entire story, with Glenn Maxwell being their only hope of reaching a respectable total at that stage. 

It was a tricky situation for Maxwell. With no frontline batsman to follow, he could not play his natural game. At one point, he was batting on 9 off 15 balls and boundaries were hard to come by. With Sachin Baby also not able to score at the other end, the Australian tried to break the shackles but he was bowled by Varun. Off the very next ball, Varun sent back Sri Lankan Wanindu Hasaranga. It also exposed the lack of depth in the Bangalore set-up.

When Kolkata’s turn came to bat, they looked in utter control. With a small target to chase, they did not have any sort of scoreboard pressure. Shubman Gill (48) and Iyer had boundaries on their mind in an effort to finish the match as early as possible and better their net run rate having started the second leg in the bottom half of the table. The thumping victory has taken Kolkata to the fifth spot.

Brief scores: RCB 92 in 19 ovs (Padikkal 22; Chakravarthy 3/13) lost to KKR 94/1 in 10 ovs (Gill 48, V Iyer 41 n.o).  

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