Virat Kohli smashed a 58-ball hundred, Moeen Ali hit a 28-ball 66 and Dale Steyn picked x wickets as Royal Challengers Bangalore defeated Kolkata Knight Riders by 10 runs to win only their 2nd match of the 2019 Indian Premier League.
KKR were reduced to 79 for 4 off 11.5 overs and it looked like it was all over for the hosts before Niitsh Rana (85 not out) and Andre Russell (65) kept them alive till the last over of the innings. The two added 118 off 8 overs but Moeen Ali kept his calm in the final over to deny the Knight Riders.
RCB had won only 1 out of 8 matches this season before the game at the Eden Gardens on Friday. To make matters worse for them, AB de Villiers was ruled out even as Dale Steyn returned to play for the Royal Challengers after 9 years. Kolkata Knight Riders, who had chased down a 200 plus total in Bengaluru against RCB on April 5, were overwhelming favourites.
After KKR decided to bowl, RCB lost Parthiv Patel and Askhdeep Nath by the 9th over.
At the half-way stage, were 70 for 2 and Virat Kohli was batting on 35 off 29 balls.
RCB would go on to plunder 143 runs off the next 10 overs. Moeen Ali would score 57 of those while Kohli would get 65 to bring up his 5th IPL hundred. Only Chris Gayle has more IPL centuries.
Virat Kohli fell to Harry Gurney off the final ball of the RCB innings but by then he had produced an IPL masterclass. RCB have been the favourite whipping boys this summer but Kohli’s innings evoked memories of 2016 when he hit 4 hundreds to help his team through to the final.
When Dale Steyn last played for RCB, Virat Kohli was yet to play Test cricket and he was nowhere the superstar he is today. On Friday, Steyn made a memorable comeback for the Royal Challengers when he removed dangerous KKR opener Chris Lynn in his 1st over and young Shubman Gill in his 3rd.
In between, Navdeep Saini got rid of Sunil Narine and KKR’s chase was rocked. Robin Uthappa trudged along to 9 before Marcus Stoinis dismissed him with a change of pace.
Nitish Rana, in at No.5, offered a fight but it was down to Andre Russell at the end.
The asking rate was climbing steeply before Andre Russell switched to beast mode. He hit Yuzvendra Chahal for 3 successive sixes in his 3rd over and KKR were suddenly in the chase with 93 off the last 5 overs. It was tough but with Russell in the middle, certainly possible.
If Russell scared RCB’s bowlers, Nitish Rana did not make life any easier for them. He hit Navdeep Saini for 2 sixes and a four in his final over and brought up his 8th IPL fifty.
Kolkata Knight Riders had lost 3 matches in a row before Friday and they were in no mood to go down without a fight especially at home. After being reduced to 79 for 4 off 11.5 overs, KKR stayed alive in a mammoth chase thanks only to Nitish Rana and Andre Russell. Virat Kohli was under pressure and his bowlers were under the pump.
KKR needed 61 off the last 3 overs and it was as good a time as any to bring Dale Steyn back for his final over. Nitish Rana hit 2 sixes and a four to bring it down to 43 off the final 2 overs for the Knight Riders.
Marcus Stoinis was entrusted with the penultimate over and he started off well – bowling 3 dot balls to Russell. Just when RCB thought they had it in the bag, Russell hit 3 sixes off the final 3 balls. Russell blazed away to his fifty off 21 balls and KKR needed 24 off the final over bowled by Moeen Ali.
Nitish Rana faced the first ball. No run. A single came off the next. Andre Russell smashed the the third ball for six but he missed the fourth ball as RCB wrapped up a thrilling victory.
Moeen Ali started the run riot with 3 sixes and 2 fours off Kuldeep Yadav’s final over as the chinaman bowler ended in tears. Once Moeen fell to Kuldeep on the final ball of his spell, Virat Kohli took over. He had reached his 50 off 40 balls but the next 17 balls produced another 50.