Well, those two weren't the only ones who lit up the Eden Gardens, as Nitish Rana (46-ball 85*) and Andre Russell (25-ball 65) added 118 runs in 48 deliveries to almost pull off a yet another heist. Despite needing 113 runs in six overs, Kolkata only lost by 10 runs. Things could have been different if the top-order wouldn't have wasted a sizeable chunk of deliveries.
Earlier, the home team kept Bangalore and Kohli quiet in the first half of the innings, but the moment Moeen stepped out to bat, all hell broke loose. The two added 90 runs for the fourth wicket, with Moeen dominating the partnership. Having been playing a role of anchor sheet, Kohli transformed into Hulk in the last four overs and 'smashed' every bowler that came on his way. Bangalore accumulated 91 runs in the final overs and finished with the score of 213 for 4 in their 20 overs.
Opting to field, Dinesh Karthik operated with Harry Gurney, Sunil Narine and Prasidh Krishna in the powerplay and the trio did well to keep Bangalore batsmen in check. Parthiv Patel and Kohli tried going after the bowlers but Gurney and Narine used their variations to perfection. Parthiv, in particular, kept slogging but ended up getting caught at deep mid-wicket for 11.
Promoted to No. 3, it was Akshdeep Nath who finally broke the shackles by muscling Prasidh for a six over deep mid-wicket. Despite having lost just one wicket, Bangalore only managed 42 runs in six overs and that's when Kohli decided to take matters into his own hands. The batting maestro greeted Kuldeep Yadav with a couple of eye-pleasing shots and got things moving for the visiting side.
Akshdeep too tried to up the ante but fell to Andre Russell who looked in a great rhythm. The right-hander from Uttar Pradesh couldn't make the most of his promotion and departed for 13 while playing a wild heave.
The visiting side were in a desperate need of quick runs and that's when Moeen walked in. The left-hander slammed Kuldeep for a six in his second delivery and looked in a brutal mood from the word go. He was outstanding against all the spinners and didn't spare anyone during his stay in the middle. Moeen was aggressive against Piyush Chawla and Narine, but it was Kuldeep who was taken to the cleaners.
In the 15 balls that Moeen faced of Kuldeep, the Englishman smoked 45 runs. Moeen completely changed the flow of the innings when he blasted Kuldeep for 4, 6, 4, 6 and 6 in the 16th over. The left-arm wristspinner was hammered for 27 runs in his final over and ended with the figures of 1 for 59. Kuldeep did have the last laugh when he got rid of Moeen in the final ball of his spell, but by then the damage had already been done. Moeen smashed five sixes and six fours before his departure, and that's when Kohli took over.
The skipper was on 55 at the end of 16 overs and it was Gurney who first faced the wrath of Kohli's willow. Kohli hit three sixes and four fours in the final four overs to complete his century. He was also helped by a misfield from Kuldeep who was shattered after the beating he took from Moeen. Bangalore smashed 143 runs in the final 10 overs and brought the roof down at the Eden Gardens.
Making his return to IPL after three year, Steyn could have got rid of Chris Lynn (1) on the very first delivery if Marcus Stonis wouldn't have dropped a sitter at first slip. However, it didn't cost Bangalore much as Lynn chipped one straight into the hands of the mid-off fielder in the very same over. Meanwhile, Narine started to look dangerous when he hit South African paceman for three fours in the same over but Navdeep Saini sent him back for 18 with a brute of a bouncer.
Shubman Gill and Robin Uthappa both scored just 9 each and wasted 31 deliveries between themselves.
Nitish Rana kept finding boundaries but the run rate kept getting higher and higher. Kolkata needed 135 runs in 8.1 over when Andre Russell came out to bat and the Jamaican had no other option but to attack from the ball one.
Russell tonked Yuzvendra Chahal for three consecutive sixes and left Kolkata needing almost same amount of runs that Bangalore scored in the final five overs.
Rana too got into the act and hit Saini for 17 runs to bring up his eighth IPL half-century. Bangalore bowlers kept bowling wide too Russell but that didn't stop him as the big-hitting all-rounder kept smashing everything through the off side.
Despite scoring 52 runs in three overs, Kolkata still needed 61 in 18 balls and Rana went after Steyn to amass 18 runs from his final over. History seemed to be repeating itself as Stonis, who started the penultimate over with three dots, was smoked for three back-to-back maximums in the last three balls of the over.
With 24 to defend, Kohli took the gamble by throwing the ball to Moeen for the first time in this match and the offspinner didn't disappoint, giving Bangalore their second win of the season.
First Published: April 20, 2019, 6:15 AM IST