An Andre Russell special at the death saw Kolkata Knight Riders emerge victorious against the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday despite the away team chasing a stiff 206 to win at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.
Commanding half-centuries from Virat Kohli (84) and AB De Villiers (63) set up RCB perfectly to land their first win of the season, but some jaw-dropping power hitting from Russell in the last three overs saw KKR win the match with five balls to spare.
For the most part, RCB were in control of the match. Defending a target in excess of 200, they had Kolkata on the ropes when skipper Dinesh Karthik departed, despite cameos from Nitish Rana, Robin Uthappa and Chris Lynn at the top of the order.
Karthik had earlier survived an LBW review but ended up holing out to Yuzvendra Chahal off Navdeep Saini’s bowling. However, KKR were always in the game as long as Russell was in the middle.
A quick look at the numbers makes Russell’s destruction of the RCB bowling look all the more impressive. When he walked in to bat, KKR needed 68 off 26. When Karthik departed, KKR needed 54 off 18. Yet he didn’t panic.
A beamer no-ball from Mohammed Siraj in the 18th over was smoked for a six and saw the bowler taken out of the attack for another high full toss. Marcus Stoinis came on to bowl the remaining deliveries.
Russell proceeded to hit the Australian for two more sixes before smashing Tim Southee – an experienced campaigner in the death – for four sixes and one four in the penultimate over.
KKR now needed 1 run from the last over and a match which looked lost just two overs back was finished in 19.1 overs, leaving Kohli and the rest of the RCB squad looking shell-shocked.
What made matters worse was that after being put in to bat first, RCB managed to score a massive 205/6 in their 20 overs thanks to Kohli and De Villiers finally coming to the party for the home team.
Kohli top-scored for the home side with 84 whereas De Villiers scored a quick-fire 63 to ensure their bowlers would have something to defend on what was a good batting surface.
Coming out to open the batting alongside Parthiv Patel, Kohli looked to be aggressive from the onset with the left-handed Patel looking to do the same.
The two had put on 64 for the first wicket when Parthiv was trapped in front of the stumps thanks to a straighter one from Rana.
Kohli was then joined by De Villiers and the two proceeded to put KKR’s bowling attack to the sword, putting on a 108-run partnership that only ended in the 18th over when the latter was caught and bowled by Kuldeep Yadav.
KKR’s bowlers looked to restrict for the most part but a batter-friendly pitch meant that RCB had no problem finding the boundaries on a regular basis.
De Villiers departed soon after but a cameo from Stoinis took the home team past the 200-run mark.
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